The Drive For Five

United States athlete Marion Jones announced to the world that she wanted to win five Olympic gold medals in this year's Summer Olympic games. She referred to it as the "Drive for Five." It had never been done in Olympic Track and Field events before, and, since Ms. Jones finished third in both the long jump and one of the relay events, it still has not been accomplished. In a recent report of her "Drive for Five," a reporter commented that she "set her sights too high."

With all due respect to the media, I disagree that Ms. Jones "set her sights too high." Granted, she did not accomplish her goal of five gold medals, but the fact that a goal is not reached does not mean that it is too high. Without lofty goals, no good is ever accomplished. You are no doubt familiar with the old saying, "It is better to aim for the stars and miss, than aim for the mud puddle and hit it every time." Though she did not accomplish the "drive for five," Ms. Jones did win three gold medals and two bronze medals - no one else entered in this year's Track and Field events can say that. In fact, this is a feat that has never been accomplished until now.

This has a serious application to Christianity. In 1 John 2:1, John wrote, "My little children, these things write I unto you, that ye sin not. And if any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous." Our aim - to use Ms. Jones words - our "drive" should be "to sin not." And yet, every Christian knows that we do sin. John wrote that very thing a few verses earlier - "If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us" (1 John 1:8). But even though we will not live without ever again sinning, we still have that lofty aim. To settle for less would be inexcusable. And when we settle for less than our best, we end up giving less than our best effort.

Paul had this same drive. "Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus" (Philippians 3:13-14). As great a servant of God as he was, Paul realized that he could be and do better. Regardless of our years of service as a Christian, or the amount of good that we have achieved in the past, who among us can say, "I have done all that I can possibly do for the Lord?" Who would dare suggest, "I cannot think of another thing that I can accomplish for Christ?" But all of us can -- and should -- say, "I am going to do my best for my Lord."

Who knows what Marion Jones might have missed if her aim had not been so high. She will be remembered for a long time for her accomplishments, and for her "drive for five." May we always have the "drive" for excellence in service to Christ.

Thomas W. Larkin