Many of you may remember that I used Wilma Rudolph as an example in the Equip and Engage swapshop. For those of you reading the blog that were unable to attend Strengthening Her Endurance, Wilma faced many challenges growing up, one of which was polio. Through her parents’ faithful care and her sheer determination, Wilma was able to walk and then, of course, run. She became known as “The Fastest Woman in the World." She is a role model to all that if you let challenges strengthen you, you can do unbelievable things.
A friend of mine knew that I was going to talk about Wilma and she wanted to know if Wilma was a Christian. She searched online and found this devotion by Wilma in a book called “The Goal and Glory." It has many devotions by famous athletes but I wanted to share the one from Wilma with you. Enjoy!
Wilma Rudolph — Guidance
Gracious is the Lord, and righteous;
our God is merciful.
The Lord preserves the simple;
when I was brought low, he saved me.
Return, O my soul, to your rest;
for the Lord has dealt bountifully with you.
For you have delivered my soul from death,
my eyes from tears,
my feet from stumbling . . . .
~ Psalm 116:5-8
I found out comparatively early in life that it takes a lot of trying to get anything worthwhile accomplished.
When I was only fifteen, I went to Melbourne, Australia, to participate in the Olympics. It wasn't publicized at the time and it was just as well. I had been lazy in practice and in running too. I simply had not done my best. After the Melbourne meet, I had plenty of time to think about my attitude. I came to realize that you have to give your best if you want to win.
So when I went to Rome for the 1960 Olympics, I had already made that truth a part of my life. I had worked hard in preparation. I was in top condition and in the right frame of mind for the events to come.
During our time in Rome my coach and the members of our team got together for prayer from time to time. We felt that with God's help and with each of us doing his best, we could win. In a situation like this, it is a real temptation to pray to win. But we all asked God only to help us do our best. I personally felt that I had let my coach and teammates down in Melbourne. Now I wanted to win and do my best for them.
I asked God for special guidance in the opening event, the 100 meters. I ran hard and won. Later I paused and thanked Him for His being with me. My teammates and I came away with a record number of gold medals. But without God's help and His will in my life, I might have repeated my failure at Melbourne.
I feel I owe God a great deal for what He has done in all of my life. When I was about a year old, I contracted polio. The doctors told my mother that I would never walk. For over three years I made trips to the hospital for treatment and mother would get the same discouraging prediction. But my mother had great faith. Her faith told her to work with me and that with God's help, something could be done.
She worked with me daily, never giving up hope that I could be as normal as any other child. She took me and my brothers and sisters to church every Sunday. Every night we had family devotions. She instilled in all of us the love of God and the importance of giving Him our lives. If it hadn't been for my mother's efforts, I would never have walked, much less competed in the Olympics.
I don't know right now just what my plans are for future events. But I am running and keeping in condition every day. I don't want to do anything less than my best when I try. That day in Melbourne taught me that.
I've learned something else too. A Christian athlete is not a person who practices Christianity only on the track or playing field. God goes with me wherever I go, whether to the Olympics or to class or a party. He guides all of my life, day by day. He is in charge of my future.
There is nothing as important as having God close to you to guide and direct. Win or lose, I want to do His will always.
Heavenly Father, I thank You for Your mercy and loving kindness. I thank You for hearing and answering prayer, for giving direction to our lives and for standing by patiently as we learn to know Your love. In Jesus' name. Amen.
Wilma Rudolph was an All-American track star at Tennessee A & I College and an Olympic and World track champion. She went on to become a teacher in Tennessee.
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