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God’s Grace Saving Grace

The Olympic gold medalist opens up about faith, failure, and grace.

Sanya Richards-Ross won Olympic Gold medals in 2004, 2008, and 2012 and was considered the best 400-meter female runner for over a decade. Her latest book, Chasing Grace: What the Quarter Mile Has Taught Me about God and Life (Zondervan), explores her spiritual journey through both victories and failures—losing and winning races, facing disappointments in relationships on and off the track, enduring the pain of Behçet’s disease, and making the decision to have an abortion just before the 2008 Olympics in Beijing, China.

“When I was in my valley, in my pit,” says Richards-Ross, “and I felt so far out of God’s grace and had so much guilt and so many negative emotions—which the devil uses to trick us—I realized that nothing can separate us from the love of God. It’s so different from track, where you are chasing for one spot. But God just wants us to yearn for him, and that for me is the biggest lesson I learned. I’m just so glad I ran into grace.”

Richards-Ross spoke recently with CT.

While I was reading your book, I thought a lot about the places in the Bible where the Christian life is compared to a race. Sometimes I get confused about the tension between accepting God’s grace and also working hard to run to the finish line. Does your experience as a runner give you a way to understand this dynamic between grace and work?

That totally encompasses how I landed on the title of my book, Chasing Grace. As the book evolved, I did realize that I have always been chasing—I chase after records, I chase after my goals, I chase after my dreams. The word chasing has always been very important and resonated deep within me. But the best thing we have on …

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