The lowest number of gold medals won at the two premier track and field competitions, The Olympics and the World Games, since Beijing 2008, by Jamaica is four.
Twice we got seven. And on one occasion, in respect of gold medals, we were in joint first place with Kenya. Relegating the mighty USA to third place!
How then did the mighty fall in #London2017 when we won one “degeh degeh”, gold medal ! Two responses have invaded my mind since. One a straightforward issue which emerged elsewhere from many other observers, who instead of ‘ tekkin bed’, took to social media and ‘ exhaled ‘.
And so I wrote these two posts:
All good things come to an end #UsainBolt #FinalBolt #London2017. Still a proud Jamaican
Thing is that we have been on a Gold medal binge #UsainBolt #realshellyann #FastElaine #OmarMcleod for a long time. While other much richer and more populous countries were experiencing drought. We just need to get used to not winning all the time. Hard! Especially #FastElainelosing But c’est la vie.
Non controversial. Nothing most people would find objectionable. But there is another deeper philosophical, and more so, theological ” challenging to the soul”, issue, which has haunted me since then. Related to the post above , but has it’s genesis in the reality of #Jamaicableeding about which a senior journalist #EricaVirtue commented on tonight as I write.
Her ‘ beef’ is the role political parties have played in two specific centres of violence in city Kingston. The current flare up in msyhem murder in Rockfort in Eastern Kingston. And Tivoli in Western Kingston.
She uncompromisingly assigns parenthood of Rockfort to the opposition PNP and of Tivoli to the ruling party, the JLP. Paradise Lost.
This week, data shared through the media, revealed that over 900, I repeat, 900 persons have been murdered to date, in my beloved country. A disaster. A national crisis.
And though murder most foul is a terrible thing. Final and irreconcilable. Yet many women who have been violated, raped, and scarred for life, feel as if something has died within. Paradise Lost indeed! Tragedy in an irrational world. A world we cannot comprehend and plumb the depths of its brokenness.
And so for a long time, one of my favourite theologians Oswald Chambers, has been telling me, and this week in my #bedtimedevotions, reminded me, again, that ” the basis of this world is not rational, but tragic”. It does not discount the beauty of God’s handiwork which we celebrate daily. But asserts that Paradise has indeed been lost.
So, when disaster struck in London, first with Bolt in 100 metres Men, then #FastElaine in 100 Women, and then the 4 x 400 men’s relay, then the 4 x 100 mens relay and finally the 4 × 400 women’s relay, we now understand why. Tragedy strikes often in life and it is inevitable. There is no getting away from it. There is no absolute predictability about life.
What happened in #Beijing2008, did not mean, ipso facto that the same thing would happen in #London2017. Or #Tokyo2020 for that matter!
It may be cataclysmic; in the form of a Category Five Hurricane like Katrina, a Tsunami like the one which caused such devastation on South East Asia many years ago, or a 8 or 9 Ritcher scale Earthquake which killed hundreds in Tibet recently. Until now, the word is that folks in ” Katrina country “, have still not recovered.
It may be the ” C” word. Cancer which suddenly strikes a relative. And if not treatable, ( Thank God many are) treated properly, proceeds to devastate mind and body, and finances too in many instances.
It may be the betrayal of the greatest trust a woman can place in a husband or partner. Her life. Her body. Her dreams for the future. Only to be crushed in a moment of madness. Or lust if you prefer. Or wickedness if there is no remorse. Tragedy strikes! Sometimes accompanied by an unwanted and untreatable virus. Sometimes the roles are reversed but not often. But such statistics are of little moment to a hurting and confused and inconsolable soul. Tragedy of immeasurable proportion shatters a family. And to what end. For what purpose! And some cry, where is God!
Paradise Lost by the internationally acclaimed poet, John Milton, was a popular book, almost required reading in my day. It’s all about man’s disobedience and the consequences thereof. It’s the poetic interpretation of the theological assertion that we live in a broken world. Because of Sin! Disobedience which created a world of tragedy.
A world of smallpox, thankfully now eradicated. Of poliomyeliyis. Of HIV/AIDS. Of strains of the sexually transmitted disease Gonorrhea, which are proving very difficult treat.
A world of Genocide. Biafra. Rwanda. Cambodia. Hitler. Stalin. The trade of African Slaves. Of ISIS.
A world of sudden death from a heart attack, a Stroke, blood clot in the Lungs, motor vehicle crashes.
A world of Racism raising its ugly head in ‘ Confederate ‘ minds in the land of the free and home of the brave. A world where increasingly created beings are triumphantly declaring that there is no God. Shaking their fist at him!
And in the midst of this comes a crucial Word from the Lord. In fact two Words. From memory:
” I have told you these things so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart I have overcome the world “.
The final verses of John 16. Just before, on the night that He was betrayed, Jesus, in His High Priestley Prayer in chap 17, prayed for His disciples.
“Come into me all who are burdened and heavily laden and I will refresh you”. Luke.
The challenge for us in this world is to ” abide”, remain in Jesus. For in Him alone do we will find peace in a broken world. Even when the forces of evil attack us!. Even when the Lord allows, or sends, misfortune to overtake us. And through abiding in Him we will bear much fruit for the Lord. Fruit that will last.
In this context, one of the things we must vigilantly guard against is worshiping man. No matter what He or She has done for us. And there is a very, very, thin line between celebrating our heroes and heroines and worshiping them. I believe in some cases, certainly with Usain Bolt, we crossed that line. Perhaps the British press even more than us. Hence the devastation in #London2017 caused some to ‘ tek bed’, or ‘tek on’ Gatlin. And that’s tragic and carries with it consequences if we allow our love for, and appreciate of, Bolt and company, or anyone else or thing, to dethrone God from the center of our lives.
One day this week, and I posted it on Facebook, whilst doing my morning exercise walk, I heard a voice, as clear as day, saying:
“Are you washed, are you washed, are you washed in the Blood of the Lamb. Are your garments spotless, are they white as snow, are you washed in the Blood of the Lamb.”
For this ‘ Lamb of God’, The Crucified and Risen and Ascended Christ Jesus came, not to condemn, but to rescue us from this broken North Korean madman world. This casually kill another human being and walk away, captured on security camera world. This White supremacist ” Go back to Africa ” world. This #Barcelona13 world. This Paradise Lost which cannot be fixed world.
So be very sure, be very sure, your anchor holds and grips the solid Rock. This Rock is Jesus. And by His Stripes we are healed. And protected from evil. That’s why Peter said to the cripple:
Silver and gold have I none, but on the name of Jesus get up and walk.
So even if we only win one bronze, or none at all in #Tokyo2020, we can still rejoice, if our garments are spotless and we are washed in the precious Blood of the Lamb.
I leave you with one of the most important ‘ conversations ” in the Bible. And there are many! One that I have been led to read and reflect on. Repeatedly! And which experience by St. Paul both validates and and inserts Christ and Him Crucified, into this issue of Paradise Lost. ‘Listen’ carefully:
” We do not want you to be uninformed, brothers, about the hardships we suffered in the province of Asia. We were under great pressure, far beyond our ability to endure, so that we despaired even of life. Indeed, in our hearts we felt the sentence of death. But this happened that we might not rely on ourselves but on God, who raises the dead. He has delivered us from such deadly peril, and he will continue to deliver us. On him we have set our hope that he will continue to deliver us as you help us with your prayers. Then many will give thanks on our behalf for the gracious favor granted us in answer to the prayers of many”.
2 Corinthians 1: 8-12 NIV.
This is the key to understanding life and its many mysteries. Tragedy and Joys. Despair and Hope. Paradise Lost and Eternal Life. ” Not to rely on ourselves but on God who raises the dead “.
So because God, with mighty power raised Christ from ” the dead”, everything in life, every desperate and seemingly hopeless situation can be ” Redeemed “. Even death.
And Rockfort, with it’s thousands of rounds and huge cache of automatic weapons and murdered citizens! So too Tivoli. And Micholle Moulton’s ” Zimbabwe “. So too Zionist Israel and belligerent Palestine. Even Syria and ISIS. Virginia and other areas, filled with White Supremacists, ‘armed to the teeth’, and ready to rumble with Blacks and Jews.
No midnight is too dark for God to act. In our personal lives, with relationships, our finances, our health, wayward children, drug addicted relatives and difficult neighbours.
But we must learn to rely on God and not ourselves, our leaders, past and present, even Marcus Mosiah Garve, whose birthday we celebrated this week. Thus triggering, once again, the debate of whether or not we ought ‘ teach Garvey ‘ in our schools. By all means yes, and celebrate Bolt too.
But be ever mindful of the songwriter who penned these words of eternal Truth and Hope. About Paradise Lost. A special, very special, hymn which came to mind as I wrote this morning.
What a Friend we have in Jesus, All our sins and griefs to bear! What a privilege to carry Everything to God in prayer! O what peace we often forfeit, O what needless pain we bear, All because we do not carry Everything to God in prayer!
2 Have we trials and temptations? Is there trouble anywhere? We should never be discouraged, Take it to the Lord in prayer. Can we find a friend so faithful Who will all our sorrows share? Jesus knows our every weakness, Take it to the Lord in prayer.
3 Are we weak and heavy-laden, Cumbered with a load of care? Precious Savior, still our refuge— Take it to the Lord in prayer; Do thy friends despise, forsake thee? Take it to the Lord in prayer; In His arms He’ll take and shield thee, Thou wilt find a solace there. Amen.