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Power of Experience

Power of experience

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I’m not sure how this is possible, but we’re just one week away from race weekend. From a training perspective, we’re in what’s called ‘taper’. It’s a time to take the intensity down, stay active, but focus on rest. The goal is to recover physically so your muscles are literally twitching as you approach the start line, begging you to let them loose and get after it. It’s been a glorious experience so far as I feel stronger as each day passes.

I’ve also heard, however, that the mind can play tricks on you during taper. You question the work you’ve done up to this point and start to really panic that you won’t be ready come race day. I’m trying not to fall victim to this. Reflecting on the past 10 months has been interesting. I’ve missed plenty of workouts. I’ve almost quit…multiple times. I’ve let life get way out of balance and have had to fight to bring work life, family life, personal life, and spiritual life from the brink of disaster throughout the year. A friend of mine at work, however, passed on a great quote to me last week that says “If you want to achieve anything big, the chances are your life will get seriously out of balance for a while.” No kidding. Could have used this 10 months ago!

I can honestly say that this is the first time in my life where I’ve trusted God 110% and followed him into the unknown with all my heart. As scary as this has been, God has been there with me every step of the way. As I approach the Ironman start line in a week, I’m feeling at peace. God has brought me through so much this year and has never let me down. It hasn’t been easy, but He’s kept his promises and I intend to keep mine to see this out.

Just this morning, I was received a devotional by Ransomed Heart Ministries that talks about the Power of Experience and relates it to the story of David and Goliath. It’s a quick read. Check it out below:

“The armies of Israel have drawn up against the armies of the Philistines, but not a single shot has been fired from any bow. The reason, of course, is Goliath, a mercenary of tremendous size and strength, renowned for his skill in combat. He’s killed many men bare-handed, and no one wants to be next. David is barely a teen when he goes to the camp and sees what is going on. He offers to fight the giant, at which point he is brought before the king, who in turn attempts to dissuade the lad. Saul says, “You are not able to go out against this Philistine and fight him; you are only a boy, and he has been a fighting man from his youth” (1 Sam. 17:33 NIV). Sound advice, the likes of which I wager any of us would offer under the same circumstances. David replies:

Your servant has been keeping his father’s sheep. When a lion or a bear came and carried off a sheep from the flock, I went after it, struck it, and rescued the sheep from its mouth. When it turned on me, I seized it by its hair, struck it and killed it. Your servant has killed both the lion and the bear; this uncircumcised Philistine will be like one of them, because he has defied the armies of the living God. The LORD who delivered me from the paw of the lion and the paw of the bear will deliver me from the hand of this Philistine. (verses 34-37 NIV)

Being a shepherd David learned lessons here that would carry him the rest of his life. The life of the shepherd was not a sweet little life with lambs around. It was a hard job, out in the field, months camping out in the wild on your own. And it had its effect. There is a settled confidence in the boy-he knows he has what it takes. But it is not an arrogance-he knows that God has been with him. He will charge Goliath, and take his best shot, trusting God will do the rest. That “knowing” is what we are after and it only comes through experience. And may I also point out that the experiences David speaks of here were physical in nature, they were dangerous, and they required courage.”

At the risk of being cliché, I’ve found great encouragement by this story. The past year has been hard. A lot of time away from family, alone on the road, fighting my own head, and trying to figure out how I’m going to finish this for God and for His people in Africa he’s called me to serve through this.

My first swim in December was a train wreck. Down and back for 50 total yards. Heart rate was through the roof and my arms were dead tired. Thoughts of ‘What did I just commit to?’ consuming me. Turns out, it was the start of one heck of a journey. Each workout pushed me out of my comfort zone. Each fundraising ask and blog post felt terribly inadequate and embarrassingly vulnerable. But through it all God has been right there beside me and picking me up as I fell.

Ironman is my Goliath. It’s laughing at me. My first-ever triathlon was this past July. Ironman will be my second. The math doesn’t work. Much like David and Goliath didn’t make sense. But the faces of the people I’m fighting for stay fresh in my mind. The collective workouts have produced an unlikely warrior in me to take down Goliath and help bring an end to suffering in Africa.

“There is a settled confidence in the boy-he knows he has what it takes. But it is not an arrogance-he knows that God has been with him. He will charge Goliath, and take his best shot, trusting God will do the rest. That “knowing” is what we are after and it only comes through experience.”

I can’t wait to take that first swim stroke, take my best shot, and trust that God will do the rest, both physically and financially. Ironman, I’m coming after you.

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