Katie Ledecky: the girl who likes breaking her own records.
I sadly was unable to watch the Olympics this year. I love the USA, but my other “home team” is the Netherlands. There wasn’t much to be seen from them this year (sad face) as they usually dominate in the pool. I didn’t see Katie win live, but I have seen recaps of her record-breaking heats at the games. Insanity. Absolute insanity.
I feel like all of these “life lesson” blogs are about a common subject: making goals and not accomplishing them; this idea of being okay with where I am in life and not comparing myself to anyone else. However, today, I’m realising that my greatest feat is not to win against someone else, but rather to win against myself.
The number of times I actually journal lately is pretty similar to the times I blog…remember what I said Day 1? Haha. But this morning, after cleaning the house and finally settling into some “me” time, I wrote something interesting. I was wrestling with this idea of trusting God and keeping my head above water. In the past, when I get frustrated by God’s apparent inability to meet my needs in any given moment, I start to look elsewhere. I turn to my own intelligence, the opinions of someone else, maybe even another kind of belief, or a new task to accomplish. It works okay for a while, but then I start to drag. I begin to flounder. I realise soon enough that I’m slowly being pulled under by a current I can’t control.
Life starts looking a little bit like this iconic photo of another record-breaking swimmer and his opponent:
Except I become the guy in the green cap trying to keep moving while looking around at the other options.
I read 2 Chronicles 13 yesterday preparing for another Sunday leading worship. God reminded me through that chapter that we are constantly surrounded with things that vie for our attention. Battles of our own mind, if you will. The only thing that guarantees us victory over those distractions is trust in the God who has already won.
He won so we can win.
When I shared this thought, I had a friend ask what exactly we were winning. I didn’t just want to answer with a normal Christianese response. In taking time to think about it, however, my response is really nothing more than “I want to be winning at life.” When I stop looking at God, when I stop placing trust in Him, I begin to tread water out there on my own. Treading water is an awesome work out, but if continued, it is not a sustainable way to live your life.
I guess in this past decade, which has been filled with so many ups and downs in my faith, I’ve come to realise that treading water is exhausting and gets me nowhere. I don’t want to just survive life. I want to beat world records in the race. And the only way I know how to do that is by having faith. By trusting this invisible, unproven being out there somewhere called God, despite what outside forces want me to believe.
Coming back to Katie and her incredible feats, trust doesn’t just happen. Like Katie hits the pool every single day, trust must also be put into training. I thought back to my time in England when I was at the end of my rope financially. It was one of the few times I actually turned my worry into worship; where I waited on God to come through, rather than make it happen myself. I put trust to the test, and you know what? In those final moments, He provided.
Far too often I give up on God because He doesn’t work fast enough. But what if I waited just a little longer? What if I just kept swimming even though I saw no end in sight. I feel like that is how Katie trains. It seems like she just keeps believing she’s going to win, she keeps believing that she can beat what she did last time. Isn’t that how I should look at God? The more I believe and give Him opportunity to move, the more He will. If Jesus defeated death, there’s really nothing more difficult that that to do.
Trusting God is placing more faith in His love, His ability and His purpose over my own rationale. Trusting is continuing to believe regardless of whatever negativity tries to derail us. Trust allows us to break through what we can’t seem to defeat on our own, no matter how much willpower or ability we have.
God wants us to break records. He wants us to walk through this life victorious with our heads held high, not sulking in defeat. But we don’t do this for our own accolades. We do this to prove that we love a winning God. We do this to show others that there is abundant life to be lived as well.
Check out what Paul writes in Hebrews 12:1-3, 7-11 (The Message, emphasis added)
Do you see what this means—all these pioneers who blazed the way, all these veterans cheering us on? It means we’d better get on with it. Strip down, start running—and never quit! No extra spiritual fat, no parasitic sins. Keep your eyes on Jesus, who both began and finished this race we’re in. Study how he did it. Because he never lost sight of where he was headed—that exhilarating finish in and with God—he could put up with anything along the way: Cross, shame, whatever. And now he’s there, in the place of honour, right alongside God. When you find yourselves flagging in your faith, go over that story again, item by item, that long litany of hostility he plowed through. That will shoot adrenaline into your souls!
God is educating you; that’s why you must never drop out. He’s treating you as dear children. This trouble you’re in isn’t punishment; it’s training, the normal experience of children. Only irresponsible parents leave children to fend for themselves. Would you prefer an irresponsible God? We respect our own parents for training and not spoiling us, so why not embrace God’s training so we can trulylive? While we were children, our parents did what seemed best to them. But God is doing what is best for us, training us to live God’s holy best. At the time, discipline isn’t much fun. It always feels like it’s going against the grain. Later, of course, it pays off handsomely, for it’s the well-trained who find themselves mature in their relationship with God.
Living a record-breaking life, a life filled with purpose, a life of fullness, adventure, excitement, beauty, hope…especially hope, truly only comes through trust. At least I have seen in my own life, when I stop trusting, when I take my eyes off of the One who supplies my needs, I only want to give up. But God doesn’t want that form me, and He doesn’t want it for you.
Take it one step at a time, one stroke at a time. Continue to look forward, continue to trust. I believe that God doesn’t disappoint us. I am so far from doing this perfectly, but it is the only way I can live this life I’ve been given.