Oscar Pistorius may be the most inspiring athlete of the London Olympics. He made history as the first amputee to run in the Olympics, reaching the semi-finals in the 400 meters, and is running for a gold medal today. Pistorius was born in 1986 without fibulae (the smaller bone in the lower leg); both legs were amputated below his knees when he was 11 months old. Fitted with prosthetics, he competed in rugby, water polo, tennis, and wrestling. As a teenager he was introduced to running and says he “never looked back.”
The South African has set world records and won gold medals in disability races for years. After authorities ruled that he could run in able-bodied competitions, he qualified for this year’s Olympics. He was to run in yesterday’s 4×400 relay, but his teammate was injured before Pistorius could take the baton. Now track’s international ruling body has declared that the South African team was obstructed by a Kenyan runner, and allowed them to move on to today’s final. When the good news was announced, Pistorius tweeted: “Thank you Lord!”
His tweet is one example of his very public commitment to Christ. Pistorius knows the secret of his success: “God is the most important person in the world to me. If I’m on the right patch spiritually, it helps with everything else.” He grew up in a Christian home, accepting Christ as a small boy. Asked why he needs Christ in his life today, he says, “Because he is the reason for my success and the one that takes me from strength to strength. Christ makes all the difference. He aids me in my struggles and makes my glories that much greater.”
Earlier this year, Time magazine voted him one of “the 100 most influential people in the world.” And Pistorius has only begun using his platform to honor God and serve others. He is already looking forward to the next Olympics in Rio de Janeiro. And his example is an inspiration to those with physical challenges the world over: “I don’t see myself as disabled. I just don’t have lower legs.” On his website he declares, “You’re not disabled by the disabilities you have. You are able by the abilities you have.”
King David agreed: “You know me inside and out, you know every bone in my body; You know exactly how I was made, bit by bit, how I was sculpted from nothing into something” (Psalm 139:15-16, The Message). God knew Oscar Pistorius’ disabilities and abilities, and is using both to make a global difference for his Kingdom.
You may not have Pistorius’ challenges or capacities, but you have problems and gifts that make you uniquely qualified to run the race God intends for you. He calls us all to “run with perseverance the race marked out for us.” How? “Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith” (Hebrews 12:2). The next time you think God cannot use you, do two things. First, remember Oscar Pistorius. Second, “fix your eyes on Jesus.” Where are your eyes fixed today?