Article copyright 2020 by Bob Rogers.
Tadej Pogacar is a young man whose name may be hard to pronounce*, but his is a name worth knowing– not only for what he did, but also for what he said.
Cycling fans were astounded in September 2020 as the young Pogacar won the three-week, 2,164-mile Tour de France by surpassing the leader on the last day of racing. Personally, I was amazed by what he said after he won.
In the first week of the race, the 21-year-old made mistakes and fell behind, but slowly he began to close the gap. Going into the last day, he was in second place overall (out of about 150 riders), but still 57 seconds behind fellow Slovenian Primoz Roglic of Team Jumbo-Visma. That seemed too big of a gap to close in just one day, as the best riders often can ride 100 miles with only a few seconds between their finish times. Roglic had a great team of fellow cyclists helping him along the way, leading him on mountain climbs, etc. Cyclists compete on teams that work together, because following the wheel of another cyclist is about 25% easier than riding alone against the wind. A pro cycling team also includes radio operators telling riders what is happening, and a support system of cars riding along the race, carrying spare bicycles, food to hand to riders, mechanics to fix problems, etc. In contrast to Roglic’s team, Pogacar of UAE Team was unable to get help from fellow riders on his team, as they were dropping out or falling behind him.
Despite overwhelming odds, on the final day of racing, Pogacar finished 1 minute, 56 seconds ahead of Roglic, more than enough to make up for his 57-second deficit! This allowed Pogacar to wear the famed yellow victor’s jersey for the final processional into Paris.
To put his victory in perspective, here is a bullet list of how amazing this win was:
*He won it by coming from way behind, on the last day, which only happened once before.
*He was the youngest winner since 1904.
*He was the first winner from his country, Slovenia.
*He’s a rookie—it was his first time in the Tour de France.
*He won three of the four main prizes. Only one other cyclist to win three of the four competitions in the Tour de France was the great Eddie Merckx in 1969. Pogacar won the yellow jersey for overall winner, polka dot jersey for best rider in the mountains, and white jersey for the best young rider. (Appropriately, an Irishman named Sam Bennett won the green jersey for most points.)
Tadej Pogcar had every reason to be proud, but instead he was humble. Take a minute to read this transcript of his interview after the race, courtesy of NBC Sports:
Interviewer: Now you know it’s not a dream. You have won the Tour de France!
Pogacar: Yeah, I don’t know what to say—I’m really proud of the team. They gave such a big effort, just a dream, we achieved it, and it’s just amazing.
Interviewer: But Tadej, it was you! You were on the bike, and you were amazing! Did you have the time gap? Could you believe it?
Pogacar: No, it was not just me, it was all the team, because I knew every corner, I knew every pothole on the road, I knew where to accelerate, because it was the road that you need to know, and it was all the team—congrats to all my team, especially to my radio operators and my mechanics. Today, I just pushed finally in the end, and yeah, I made it.
Interviewer: You had 57 seconds of a deficit on Primoz. Did you believe it? You clearly believed you could beat him, no?
Pogacar: No, I was listening to my radio just on the flat parts but then on the climb I didn’t hear any from the radio because the fans were so loud, so I didn’t hear anything—no time gaps, nothing. I just went deep. I knew the climb very well, so I just went full gas from the bottom to the top.
Interviewer: Is this a childhood dream?
Pogacar: Actually, my dream was just to be in the Tour de France. And now the dream is—[pause] I’m here and I won, this is unbelievable.
It was unbelievable for his victory, and inspiring for his humble spirit. In this year of anger, anguish and arrogance, such people are badly needed.
(*Tadej Pogcar is pronounced TAH-day Poe-GOTCHA)
Article copyright by Bob Rogers.
In the Hebrew scriptures, Abraham may have been the father of faith, and Moses the giver of the law, but David was the “comeback kid.” Look at all the times David made a comeback:
David overcame his size (1 Samuel 16). He was the youngest son of Jesse, yet the prophet Samuel chose to anoint him as the next king.
David overcame his giant (1 Samuel 17). He faced down the giant Goliath when others fled, and won!
David overcame his defeat (1 Samuel 30). When the Amalekites raided his camp and kidnapped his wives, David’s men were ready to kill him. But David found strength in the Lord, and led his men to victory, recovering his family and all that had been taken from them.
David overcame his sin (1 Samuel 11-12). He abused his power to exploit the beautiful Bathsheba, then ordered her husband put on the front lines to die. Yet when confronted by the prophet Nathan for his adultery and murder, David confessed his sin, repented, and experienced the grace of God’s forgiveness.
David overcame his sorrow (1 Samuel 12). Despite his repentance, David suffered the consequences of his sin in the death of his infant child. Yet when he realized the child had died, David rose from his grief and worshiped his God.
David overcame a rebellion (1 Samuel 15-17). His own son Absalom led a revolt against the king, but David was able to win the battle and retake his throne.
David overcame his pride (1 Samuel 24). Proud of his mighty army, he took a census of his troops. This brought on the judgment of God, but again David humbled himself and was forgiven.
Are you despairing, distressed, defiled and defeated? Like David, find your strength in God. His grace can give you a comeback, too!
Copyright by Bob Rogers.
If somebody asked you to name the five greatest men in the Bible, other than Jesus, who would you name?
Most people would name Abraham, Moses, David, Peter and Paul.
It occurred to me that there is something surprising that all five of them have in common: failure.
Yes, they all failed. Blew it. Messed up big time. Did things so bad that if we did them today, we might consider our lives destroyed, over, kaput.
Let’s review, class. First, we have Abraham. He agreed to the foolish request of his wife Sarah to make love to her servant Hagar and try to leave a legacy through the servant girl, since it seemed like God would never fulfill His promise for Abraham and Sarah to have a son. Major mistake. Caused all kinds of problems: jealousy, broken hearts, abandonment, and ultimately, hatred between the Arabs and the Jews. And it just gets worse after Abraham.
Next up is Moses. He gave us the Ten Commandments, but he was already guilty of what most of us would consider the worst violation of the commandments. He murdered an Egyptian and hid his body in the sand. When his crime was discovered, Moses ran for his life, and went from being an Egyptian prince to being a herdsman in the middle of nowhere.
Third, we have King David. He not only murdered a man named Uriah, but did so to cover up his adultery with Uriah’s wife, Bathsheba. When the prophet Nathan confronted him, he turned white as a sheet and could only weep and confess he was a sinner.
Turning to the pages of the New Testament, we come upon Simon Peter. He denied the Lord Jesus. Yeah. Even used profanity. When he was confronted, he went out and wept bitterly.
And last but not least, we have Saul, later known as Paul. He assisted in stoning to death the first Christian martyr, and then went all over Israel and even to Syria to drag Christians out of their homes by the hair and throw them in jail. When Paul was confronted, he went blind.
The fact that all five of the greatest men in the Bible failed so miserably gives me incredible hope and encouragement. Abraham went on to become the father of Isaac, and a nation, and is considered the father of faith. He was called the friend of God. Moses saw God face to face, and set his people free from slavery and gave us the Ten Commandments. David became the greatest king of Israel, the ancestor of the Messiah, and was known as a “man after God’s own heart.” Peter became the leader of the early church in Jerusalem, forgiven by Jesus and charged by Christ to “feed My sheep.” Paul became the greatest missionary and theologian of the early church, who was sent to take the gospel to the Gentiles, and wrote half of the New Testament.
Could it be that part of the reason for their success was their failure? Could it be that the experience of painfully facing their own weakness caused them to depend more completely on the power of God– perhaps more so than people who think that they have it all together and they could never fall? As Paul said, God’s “power is made perfect in weakness” (2 Corinthians 12:9).
Let that be a reminder to all of us who are burdened by our sinful past and who feel that our lives are failures. God uses broken people! As David wrote in his great prayer of repentance, “The sacrifice pleasing to God is a broken spirit. God, You will not despise a broken and humbled heart.” (Psalm 51:17).
So if your spirit is broken and your heart is humbled, if you feel that you can’t go on anymore, just open the pages of the Bible. From the Old Testament to the New Testament, God shows how He often accomplishes His greatest successes through people we would consider great failures. (And I didn’t even mention how God used the prostitute Rahab, the unwilling missionary Jonah, the bad girl Mary Magdalene, or tax collectors and cheats like Matthew and Zacchaeus.)
If God can use them, then need I state the obvious? He can also use you and me, if we will put ourselves into His hands, and trust Him.
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