Swimming

The Voice of Truth

Casting Crowns Nailed It

God tends to use music to speak to me when I’m desperate and at a total loss for what to do. Ever have a song come on the radio at exactly the right time that pertains to whatever you’re going through in that moment? I had such an experience this past week as I was having trouble shaking the experience of my first open water swim.

That one workout crushed all of the self-confidence I’ve been building up over the last few months of training. The experience lingered in my mind for days afterwards. “There’s no way I’m going to be able to finish this Ironman triathlon” was a consistent voice in my head until God spoke to me through music once again.

On the way to work one morning last week, a song by Casting Crowns comes on the radio called “The Voice of Truth.” The song rocked me as I felt the Holy Spirit with me in that moment. The moment was so powerful that I had tears running down my face instantly. It’s now the perfect anthem as I transition into the back-half of Ironman training. Let me break it down for you.

Courage to climb out of the boat

The song starts out like this:

“Oh what I would do to have
The kind of faith it takes
To climb out of this boat I’m in
Onto the crashing waves
To step out of my comfort zone
Into the realm of the unknown where Jesus is
And He’s holding out His hand”

Taking on Ironman and trying to raise $140,600 is the first time I’ve ever followed God’s call into the realm of the unknown, no questions asked. I feel like I have to climb out of the boat every morning praying I have the faith to reach out to Jesus outstretched hand. So much of every day is out of my comfort zone!

Swimming was always going to be my weakest element of this triathlon. However, I’ve made great progress over the past 5 months in the pool and thought my first open water swim would be a positive experience. As you can tell by the picture accompanying this post it was an emotional experience that shook me.

But the waves are calling out my name and they laugh at me

The song continues with:

“But the waves are calling out my name
And they laugh at me
Reminding me of all the times
I’ve tried before and failed
The waves they keep on telling me
Time and time again. “Boy, you’ll never win!”
“You’ll never win!”

The waves were indeed laughing at me on this first lake swim. So many new elements played into it. This was my first time swimming in a wet suit and my shoulders tired out quicker than I expected. The sun kept peeking in and out of clouds which visually threw me off. I saw more underwater than I expected to see, especially the steep drop-off as the shallows abruptly swept down into the abyss. This caused my first fit of panic and I had to grab onto the kayak my wife Tricia was paddling. I am so grateful she joined me. I wouldn’t have fared well at all without her out there with me!

In the deep water, seeing my hands underwater and nothing else was just creepy. Not swimming straight was frustrating as I couldn’t get into a rhythm. I also was thrown off by the lack of chlorine in the water. I’m so used to the smell and taste of it. Not having it in the lake, as weird as that sounds, really messed me up. As did the cold water in my face every time I submerged. It literally took my breath away which made controlling my breathing impossible.

All of these elements created numerous moments of panic where I had to cling onto Tricia’s kayak. Uncontrollable breathing, spiked heart rate, and a feeling of inadequacy. I set out to make it all the way across the lake and back, which would have been a mile, but I called it ¾ of the way across and turned around, desperate to end this experience.

As I turned I was met with a headwind and lake chop. Queue panic again as wave after wave crashed into my face and mouth. The waves literally telling me “Boy, you’ll never win!”

When I finally made it back to the dock, I threw my goggles off, stripped off the top half of my wet suit, and cried my eyes out. Being this vulnerable in front of Tricia was difficult as I know she worries about me and this Ironman. I didn’t want to appear weak, but there was no way around it. The emotion spilled out. It rocked me.

The voice of truth says, “This is for My glory!”

The song’s first verse concludes with this:

“But the voice of truth tells me a different story
The voice of truth says, “Do not be afraid!”
The voice of truth says, “This is for My glory”
Out of all the voices calling out to me
I will choose to listen and believe the voice of truth”

Sitting in the car as this played is when the tears rolled again. The voice of truth (i.e. God) says “Do not be afraid!” The voice of truth says, “This is for My glory!” What a truth that is. To God be the glory! God has called me to Ironman, to Team World Vision, to this goal of $140,600. I often question why He’s laid this goal so heavy on my heart this year. Especially when I receive a ‘no’ from potential donors or when I am reminded that I’m not an elite athlete. There are so many voices that shout out “You’ll never win!” throughout every day and every week.

This latest experience, however, has given me hope. I can assure all of you that “out of all the voices calling out to me, I will choose to listen and believe the voice of truth.”

For His glory! Amen.

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