Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize. 1 Corinthians 9:24
Attention novice athletes, the waters are very rough today. If you do not feel like you can complete the ocean swim, you may allow the waves to bring you to shore. You will be permitted to complete the bike and run course, but you will not be considered a finisher. (If it were me, I would not want this to be my first ocean swim.)
The words stunned me. Was he actually telling us NOT to go into the water? To not try? To give up? Admittedly, as I stared at the ocean last Saturday waiting my turn to start the ocean swim leg of my first sprint triathlon, I did give some thought as to my readiness. Although I had trained for many months, listened to expert advice, read countless articles and tips on triathlon training, I had greatly underestimated the ocean. Staring out into the water, I was quickly reminded of its vastness, depth, power, and darkness. The waves were large and the buoys that marked the course were FAR from shore. I was going to have to swim in deeper than I had thought, I was going to have to go out farther away from shore than I had expected. The course was being watched by lifeguards in kayaks, but they were also quite far, and there were not many of them. I had also thought I would be swimming with people around me, but as I watched the more experienced racers begin, I noticed that the ocean separated each athlete. Each person was on his/her own. I had also not realized how the swim course was designated. Unlike the bike and run courses, which had a particular path that everyone followed, the swim course was kind of a rough outline. We were to swim out to the first buoy and then north until we reached the third buoy, turn toward the shore and finish. Each swimmer had their own take on how to get out to the first buoy, jumping over waves, diving under, swimming way out to the side and allowing the current to draw them back toward the buoy. As I looked out into the ocean, I realized that I had no idea what was about to happen. For the first time, I wasn’t sure I could do it. I was scared. Up until that moment when the race was about to begin, I had heard nothing but encouraging, positive feedback from those around me. “It will be no problem, you got this!” they all said. But that day, I heard nothing but doubt, from the man announcing the race, to those around me saying, “Well, you did train in the ocean didn’t you?” (“No, not really,” I thought silently). And then, there was the voice in my head saying, “You can fake your confidence standing here right now, but in 5 minutes, you will be swimming and the truth will come out…you are not ready, you can’t do this.” I continued to listen to all of the reasons why I would fail:
- I hadn’t trained enough in the ocean
- The waters were extremely rough
- The buoys were way too far out
- Its not like running/biking…you can’t just “stop”…stopping is sinking!
Wait, this voice was beginning to sound familiar…I remember hearing the same doubts during my own recovery process. The voice would say:
You can’t do this, you are not ready, you may be able to fake your way through a meal plan, but you know you are still not happy with your body. Recovery is too hard, the course is too long, what if I can’t make it?
And that’s when I made my decision…I would go into the water….I would be a finisher…I would get the prize. That ocean was dark and scary, I did not know if I was strong enough swim, but I knew I would not sink. The same God that pulled me through the dark waters, the most difficult parts of my recovery, would propel me through this ocean swim.
I ran into the water with renewed confidence, I leapt over the first wave, dove under the next, I began to use all of the skills I learned in training…and quickly discovered that they were useless. I was constantly pushed back by the waves, passed by other swimmers, and overwhelmed by the waves towering over my head. Gulping at the air, spitting salt water out of my mouth, I turned over to float. I wasn’t even half way to the first buoy and I was already tired.
Ok Jeanette, you have two choices, go back or move forward. Do you want to finish or don’t you?
So many times in my treatment I had the same conversation with myself. There would be times when I felt completely pushed back by my own self-hate. I would feel like life was passing me by, other people moving through it with ease. I was often overwhelmed by things I could not control. In recovery I learned that the ‘waters’ were often deeper than I expected, I would have to go farther into issues than I had imagined, and although there were others around me, ultimately, I would have to follow my own course. There came a point in my recovery where I had to make the choice to keep moving forward or to give up. Sure, I could skip the rough waters, the things that no one wants to do. I might even be able to be considered “recovered” by some standards. But I would only be crossing the finish line, I wouldn’t receive the prize.
It would not be through my own strength that I did this. Through Christ alone I live a recovered life, I move through the deep waters of my emotions, I have my being. Ultimately the prize is not a balanced meal plan or a medal, it is completing the task that He has for me.
For in him we live and move and have our being. Acts 17:28
However, I consider my life worth nothing to me; my only aim is to finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me–the task of testifying to the good news of God’s grace. Acts 20:24
Breathing In (Bible Study)
- Look at each one of today’s verses. I encourage you to choose one of them to study in more depth. Go to www.biblehub.com and search for the verse. You will find that there are commentaries, lessons, and parallel texts listed. Also, and perhaps most importantly, is the “lexicon” tab. Here you will find the original language of the verse with descriptions of meanings. Read, pray, and reflect on what God might be trying to tell you in these verses.
- Think about your own efforts to live and move through life. What are the deep waters? What choices are you being asked to make in your life? How does knowing God help you run your race? What are you missing? What do you need to ask Him to give you today?
Breathing Out (Prayer)
Father, we know from your word that You rule over the surging sea; when its waves mount up, you still them. (Psalm 89:9) We ask you to come into these surging seas that often surround us and seem to overwhelm our lives and calm them. Sometimes we look out into the deep waters of our circumstances and hear you calling us to venture there but we are afraid because we cannot see you. Your path led through the sea, your way through the mighty waters, though your footprints were not seen. (Psalm 77:19) We cry out, we know you will lead us beside still waters even if we must travel through dark shadows of the deep to get there. We believe that you will restore our weary souls. You are the One who the wind and the waves obey, and you are indeed strong enough to save us. In Your strength, for Your glory. Amen
Bonus “Play List”: Strong Enough To Save You- Tenth Avenue North
Oceans Wide- The Afters
Walk on Water- Britt Nicole