We can find inspiration from the life of John Stephen Akhwari, as told in Bud Greenspan’s book 100 Greatest Moments in Olympic History.
When the winner crossed the finish line in the 1968 Mexico City Olympic marathon, the officials and spectators thought that had been the highlight of the race. Then, an hour later, John Stephen Akhwari, a runner from Tanzania, entered the stadium. Bloodied and bandaged from a fall, and with a dislocated knee, he limped painfully.
Ever since my school days, one of my greatest thrills has been to start a new notebook. That first nice-smelling white page, all clean and perfect, without wrinkles or dents, was so inviting and promising! It could be because I wasn’t always so neat, so here was another chance to finally improve my handwriting, or simply because I was excited about starting something new. Inevitably, as the days passed, I got sloppy again and couldn’t wait to throw away that notebook and start another new one.
When someone asked the famous mountaineer George Mallory why he wanted to climb Mount Everest, he simply stated: “Because it is there.”
Didn’t he know that staying home would have been a whole lot safer? Didn’t he care about the dangers, the hardships, and the risks?
What do a record-breaking tightrope-walker, a martial arts expert, and a successful businessman have in common?
They have learned self-discipline. In each of their professions, discipline is the key—discipline that’s manifested in allocating time to practice, honing their skills, and in some cases, giving up things in their diet or personal life to achieve their goals.
Long discussions regarding possible changes made the future seem foggier by the day. Several years earlier, my husband and I, together with a few friends, had founded a humanitarian organization to try to help in the difficult aftermath of civil war in the former Yugoslavia.
“You are braver than you believe, stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think.”—Christopher Robin (A. A. Milne)
The first time I read this quote, I thought of a story I had just read about a young man with extraordinary athletic skill and ability. At just nineteen years old, Rafael Nadal already knew that he wanted to be a world champion tennis player.
I dislike cold, icy, snowy winters. That is a big reason I was happy living in Mexico for many years. But now my wife and I are in Canada, and yesterday it snowed. It is early in the year for snow, and they were wispy flakes that didn’t stick, but they were a harbinger of what is sure to follow. It has been below zero most nights and not much above it in the daytime. Did I already say I dislike winter?
Light is appreciated and valued, because we’ve experienced darkness. Hope is truly valued after we’ve experienced despair. Our blessings bring us the greatest joy, because we’ve experienced life without them. We value health because we’ve experienced sickness, and we understand the value of being loved because we know what it’s like to feel loneliness.
Strapping on my harness and checking my gear to make sure it was secure, I held the reins tightly in my hands. The winged creature lurched, squirmed, wriggled, and writhed to free itself from its restraints and heave me into the abyss. My keepers, one at either side, were able to contain its fury, but it took all of their skill and stamina to keep it from sweeping me off my feet and carrying me up into its lair.
It could be said that there are many types of heroism. First, the everyday heroic acts that are performed by unsung heroes that step in to save the day in ways that we infrequently hear of. Second, the famous heroes we admire—pioneers in medicine, defenders of peace and justice, rescuers of the lost, champions of faith. And then, in a league of His own, is the Superhero of all time: Jesus, who conquered death for Himself and all who believe.1