When I was in high school my English teacher explained that there were some words in the language which were overused. She never wanted us to use “nice” or “like,” encouraging us to find synonyms instead. My teacher believed that constant use of these words made them fillers, diluting the intended meaning. To this day, I am very careful about whether or not I use either word in my written work or during a sermon.
One of the most overused words which have become part of our lexicon is actually an acronym. It is GOAT. When I was growing up, the word referred to a four-legged animal that could climb mountains or the worst athletic performance one could witness. All that changed around the turn of the century. Some attribute the new meaning to Muhammed Ali, others to an album from L. L. Cool J, which was titled Greatest of All Time.
I sometimes dread watching sports because every announcer has to talk about the GOAT in every game, match, or meet. Comparisons are made between current and past standout athletes, records made and records broken, etc., etc., etc. I have grown tired of the debate, the term, and how so many try to define and categorize what makes an athlete great or not. I also don’t believe that one can compare the standout athletes of today with former stars for whom equipment, training, coaching, and circumstances were very different.
And I wonder how that overuse has impacted the Greatest Story Ever Told. This was the title of a 1960s movie that was a retelling of our Savior’s mission and ministry. I still believe God’s continuing relationship with us is the best and biggest part of who we are. Is the Good News of our Lord being lost in the rhetoric around who stands out in the world of politics, sports, and entertainment?
How do we tell God’s story and share how miraculous and amazing our relationship is in the midst of all the conversations about who and what is great? So much of who we are and what we do is deeply tied to the One who created us and this world. I don’t know how to make it through the day without telling somebody about how God continues to shape our lives and is our constant companion on the journey of faith.
One of my favorite summer activities is Vacation Bible School. Sharing God’s miraculous and loving stories with the next generation is one of the ways we can share the essential and vital ways that God is still present and still active in our lives. Each Vacation Bible School also reminds me to share the excitement of God’s story with the parents, grandparents, uncles, and aunts of those who come to learn about our God. It is our Lord’s story that is truly the GOAT. And Amen.