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No one can deny how impressive Michael Phelps is in the pool: his medal count speaks for itself. To make it to the Olympics is amazing but to earn a medal – whether bronze, silver or gold – sets you apart from the rest of the world. You are a “card carrying” member of an elite group.

So for me to even write about Michael Phelps winning a silver medal in the Men’s 200 Fly swim rather than a gold almost sounds like I don’t get it.

But bare with me. I have a point and it is not to say that “to win silver is to lose gold” as others have said. I might be tempted to make a comment like that if I had ever competed in the Olympics or even been invited to attend. Since none of you have ever cheered for my name while chanting “USA, USA…,” well, you get it.

I just wonder if he will always be thrilled with the silver or forever replay in his head the final seconds of the swim. Perhaps you watched it, as I did, and saw that he “had the race won.” He was leading Le Clos of South Africa. Everyone thought the race was his but in the final split second le Clos pulled it off, he won.

[The video is here:]

What was the difference? le Clos turned in a time of 1:52.96 and Phelps’ time was 1:53.01, just .500 of a second difference. What made the difference? Phelps’ coasted to the wall and le Clos took one extra “half stroke” to the wall. That was all the difference between silver and gold.

This made me consider my own life and ministry. Every day I encounter situations where I have to make a choice about that “extra half-stroke.” You know what I am talking about. They are the seemingly little things that do make a difference. Things like:

  • Spending time with God in my Quiet Time
  • Making time to pray
  • Finishing the project or writing the email I have been putting off
  • Sending an encouraging note, email, Twitter or FB
  • Cleaning up after dinner for my wife or just giving her extra time and attention
  • Being sensitive to the people in need around me
  • Responding rather than reacting to someone who tests my patience
  • Sharing my faith with the person God puts in our path

I am not sure when the next time I will be in a situation where I need to give just one more “half stroke” but I want to be committed to living like that!

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