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Gospel Reader

The Tranquility of Victory and the Calm of Defeat —Obeying God Is Best


Ma Na, USA

During a person’s life, facing success and failure is unavoidable. There are many people who are happy when they have success, and who are frustrated and pained when they face failure. There are even many people who stake all their efforts in wanting to reach a point at which all their hopes are fulfilled, but things are often not how people would like them to be. Because of this, many people think that this life is not as they want it to be. Previously, I also always relied on my own ability in the work I did, and all that I got from that was the pain of failure. But afterward, through experiencing some things, my perspective had a bit of a transformation: Tranquility in success, and calmness in failure—obeying the sovereignty and arrangements of God is the best, and one can also be liberated and free in life that way.

The Tranquility of Victory and the Calm of Defeat —Obeying God Is Best

Because I stood out in the realm of sports, there was one time that I represented my school in participating in a city-wide sprinting competition. Before, when I took part in sports at school, I always won every gold medal in the sprint event. So I was full of confidence about this race, and showed disdain for all others just as if I were some great sports hero. In my training before the race, I was undisciplined, and thought to myself: Anyway, with my ability it’s all but guaranteed that I will win the trophy, and the race is simply running, that’s it. But mom always said to me: “The most important thing isn’t what place you get; what’s most important is learning to rely on God and being able to experience God’s work. Entrust everything to God, for only by obeying God’s sovereignty will you be able to be calm and liberated. If you rely on yourself, you will certainly fail.” In theory, I knew that what my mom said was right, but I thought in my heart: “God is the one true God who created the universe and everything in it. Does God need to be bothered about a competition as small as this?” Besides, the result of this competition isn’t of any concern at all, since the prize was essentially something I could have just reached out my hand and taken.

In the blink of an eye, the day of the competition had arrived. I strode into the stadium and saw athletes who had come from a variety of school districts, each of them rubbing their hands together with anticipation, eager to give it a shot. Looking at their professional and matching uniforms, and the orderly and disciplined way they did their warm-up movements, it made me nervous about a competition for the first time. This was especially so when I saw there were some physiques which were clearly far beyond those of the athletes in our age group, and just their legs were a great deal more developed than mine. When I found out that I was to compete together with them, the confidence that “I have the power to pull up the mountains and the might that surpasses the world; I will bravely seize first place and will not give up” as well as the “primeval power” stored in my body vanished without a trace in an instant. But at that time I already could not back out, and I could only summon up my resolve and enter the playing field. There were eight teams altogether in the men’s 100 meters sprint, and in the first round only the top two members of each team would qualify to go to the semifinals. Finally, the eight athletes with the best results would compete for the trophy, for second place, and other prizes. I was placed in group seven, and looking at the other athletes in my group, they all had dark skin and a sturdy build, and this made me feel the greatest kind of pressure for the first time. The first six teams had already finished running, and soon it was our turn to take the field. With a nervous heart, I took my place on the track. At that moment, I realized that in doing my warm-up exercises I still had not stretched. Flustered, I quickly stretched a few muscles, but there was already not enough time for me to get ready, so I put my feet into the starting marks, and stretched my palms out over the line, and waited for the referee to call out. “Everyone…on your mark…get set…” In the few seconds waiting for the sound of the starting gun, it was like a century had passed. The sun was scorching my skin and my fingers were aching from supporting my body, but what I felt most deeply was the unforgettable anxiety and sound of my heartbeat. My coach once said that anxiety before a match can help one’s performance, but I felt like this kind of anxiety would be fatal for me. It was as if the whole world was calm, and the only thing I could hear was the beating of my heart as it went “thump thump, thump thump…” At last, the starting gun sounded, and instinctively I shifted my legs, moved my arms, and charged forward. But somehow, a tendon in my left thigh seemed to be intentionally making things difficult for me. I clearly felt that my steps lacked that grace and fleet-footedness that I had had before on the racetrack. Soon I saw in my field of vision that two athletes alongside me had passed me by several lengths, and I quickly became agitated. I sprinted forward with all my might but I couldn’t catch up to them. Usually, I was the only one passing people, so how could it be that there were others beating me? In that moment, the confidence I had before the match collapsed and disappeared in an instant. Looking back, I have no idea how I finished running the remaining few dozen meters. I just remember that after running I immediately gathered up my things and left the field.

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