Hebrews 12:1 “ …, let us lay aside every weight, and sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us.”
Paul uses a long distance ‘race’ to illustrate our life on Earth and pursuit to eternal life. With these thoughts in mind, I was reminded of a particular day in the summer when I was 11 years old. The Barre Municipal Pool was packed with 200 kids when Yvan Coupal, the 16 year old lifeguard, called me and my friend, Billy, over to his station. We were sure we were in trouble. Yvan told us that 2 of his swimmers were out of town for an important swim meet that night against Montpelier. He then asked if we might fill the 2 spots.
With wide eyes and big grins, we both said “Yes!”
That night, I rode my bike to the swim meet. I figured Yvan had noticed my natural talents. I was excited but nervous as I joined all the swimmers in lane at the takeoff spots.
I remember watching all the swimmers jump in the pool to get ‘watered down’. So, I did the same thing.
I remember getting out of the water and watching all the swimmers hold their arms down, and begin to ‘loosen up’ by shaking their shoulders and their hands. So I did the same thing.
I remember watching all the swimmers stand at the edge and move into a ‘ready-set-go’ statuesque pose. So, I did the same thing.
The whistle blew and all the swimmers dove into the water and started to swim. So, I did the same thing. I dove into the water.
Yvan had never coached me. I never received any instructions or guidance. And, any talent that I thought … I did not have.
It seemed like 10 minutes of wailing and flailing and kicking and shaking my head back and forth before I looked up. Pitiful! I had beat the crap out of the water and I was only ½ way across the pool. And, all the other swimmers were finished. All swimmer and spectator jaws were in a drop position as their wide eyes were fixed on lane 5! I calmed myself, finished the race and left as quickly and as quietly as I could.
Lesson #1,274: As we run that great race that is put before us, we should not be surprised if our wailing and flailing looks a bit bad at times. We should not be embarrassed when all eyes seem to be watching as we kick and shake our way through. We can see with new eyes the important race recipe that helps us to recognize our weakness and appreciate His strength in us.
God has given us all that we need to persevere and finish.
John 14:26 “ … the Holy Spirit … shall teach you all things, and bring to remembrance, whatsoever I have said to you.” He has given us a great and constant coach who lives with us and in us. John 14:17 “ … the Spirit of truth … you know him; for he dwells in you, and shall be in you.” And, He is cheerleading for us with a great and unconditional Love. Zepaniah 3:17 “The Lord your God is with you … He takes great delight in you … He rejoices over you with singing.”
P.S. I can't remember if Billy ever did show up for the thing!
Chris Beltrami is one of New England's most award winning photographers. For decades he has used his position as a Christian businessman to influence others to consider the claims of Christ on their lives. He has been writing a monthly devotional called "Think About It" for many years. This article first appeared in the October 2016 edition of "Think About it."