Posts tagged ‘race’

Living in the Kingdom of God

So, my dear brothers and sisters, be strong and immovable. Always work enthusiastically for the Lord, for you know that nothing you do for the Lord is ever useless.  1 Corinthians 15:58

My daughter, Sally, has been competing in Ironman events since 2010 with the dream of qualifying for Kona. The Kona Ironman is the Holy Grail of the sport. The only way to compete in Kona is by qualifying at a sanctioned Ironman race, or by invitation. It is very difficult to earn a spot at Kona as evidenced by the fact that were only 50 spots available at the Ironman Wisconsin on September 7, 2014 for over 2,200 athletes. 

Sally hired a coach after her second Ironman when she realized there would be little chance of training adequately to qualify for Kona without help. And so she has been on a tireless journey since that time to achieve her goal. There have been many weeks and even months when it seemed impossible to keep training. She had some successes in reaching milestones along the way. But there were plenty of failures as well. But on September 7, she reached her goal by running her race, trusting her coach’s plan, and staying focused for the entire 10 hours, 51 minutes, and 54 seconds that it took her to complete the race. This was quite an improvement from her Ironman time of 12 hours, 56 minutes, and 55 seconds in 2011.

Making it to Kona is all about the training and sticking with the coach’s plan. The same is true with God’s Kingdom. The only difference is that there are as many spots for God’s Kingdom as there are people. God wants EVERYONE! He does not want to exclude anyone. We are all called to the Kingdom of God. But what does it look like for us to live in His Kingdom? Paul tells us to “be strong and immovable.” This is easier than making it to Kona because our Coach is the Rock. He is strong. He is immovable. And when you allow Him access to your heart, He gives you all the strength and stability necessary to live in His Kingdom.

The amazing thing about God’s Kingdom is that we are invited to live in it today! We don’t have to wait for the prize. But we do need to submit to Jesus. When we listen to His voice, hear His plan for our lives, and allow Him to lead us every step of the way, we are living the dream! I have found that as I keep my eyes on Jesus, He supplies everything I need to make it through the race of life. Making it to Kona is pretty cool. But living in the Kingdom of God is absolutely out of this world even as we live in this world. 

Do You Know Your Race Plan?

“…let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith…”  Hebrews 12:1-2

After watching my daughter, Sally, compete yesterday in Ironman Wisconsin, I thought of Hebrews 12 as I spent time with God this morning. Every time I go to one of Sally’s Ironman races, I am impressed with the enormity of the task to complete such an event. Each part of the race is an event by itself. But to combine all three into one event is overwhelming to most people. To swim 2.4 miles followed by a 112 mile bike race, and then to run for 26.2 miles is staggering. This is an event you don’t decide to do the week before and just show up. In fact, Ironman races generally fill up a year before the race. So you have to plan ahead and be committed to a training regimen in order to even be in the race and finish it.

Sally trains for a year to be ready for the race that yesterday took her 10 hours and 51 minutes to complete. She spends hours running and biking and swimming alone. But she also has a coach and many friends who train with her, give her advice, and support her through the process. All of this comes together to optimize her chances for a successful race. And how does Sally define a “successful race?” By meeting the goals her coach has set for her. By running her race. By doing the best she can do irregardless of what anyone else does.

Life is like that. Life is an endurance event that is meant to be run with the help of others. But we should never allow our neighbor, friend, or enemy to take our focus off the plan that our Coach, Jesus, has given us. Jesus knows you. He created you. He died for you. He is invested in you. And He has given you gifts to be used in the endurance race of life that will change the world. 

Sally’s coach gives her a race plan that she trusts and follows throughout the race. All of this comes together on race day to optimize her chances for a successful day. If she were to lose focus and try to keep up with a fellow competitor, the results would be disastrous. We were created to love and support one another, not to judge ourselves based upon one another. And so when we read in Hebrews 12 to run the race set before us, that means we each have a different race plan. To be successful is to simply follow the plan Jesus has set before us. 

When we keep our eyes on Jesus, we have success that is measured by the amount of peace He places in our hearts, not the amount of gold we place in our hands.  Do you know your race plan? Do you know the goals Jesus has set for you? Are you keeping your eyes on Him?

Do You Know What You Can Do?

It was last year after Sally finished the Coeur d’Alene Ironman that I strongly recommended she hire a coach. It was a very painful race for her as she had no race plan and consumed fewer than 1,000 Cal the entire race day, including her pre-race breakfast. It was no wonder that she “hit the wall” at mile 70 of the bike ride. It was a testament to her inner strength and motivation that she even finished that race. So she hired a coach, started counting her caloric intake (making sure she was eating enough), going to bed earlier, training consistently, setting goals, and making sure her life was in balance. All of these are important ingredients to not only a successful Ironman race, but vital for the race of life I discussed in my last blog.

Check out the difference a year makes because of a coach who helped her see what she can do. For one year the coach has helped Sally focus on the above ingredients to a successful race. The plan on race day last Sunday was to swim the 2.4 miles in about an hour. She swam it in 1:06. The plan then called for her to ride her bike SLOWER than she is capable of riding. Her coach told Sally to leave her ego behind and allow others to pass her. She was instructed to ride to a target heart rate and not a certain speed. This would preserve her energy for the run where the race is won or lost. She did this even though there were times she was very frustrated by the slower pace that resulted in being passed by many other racers. The coach expected her to complete the ride in 6:30. She finished in 6:31. Pretty good! 

And then came the all out effort on the run. In mile 13 she shouted, “This is sooo much fun!” as she ran by us. What a difference it makes to know what you can do. She ran the marathon in 4:01 improving her time by nearly 45 minutes from a year ago resulting in a finish time for the Wisconsin Ironman of 11:48:54. She did so well because she was not racing against other participants but rather herself. When you think the race is against others this is when you try to do more than you can. Sally’s coach gave her a plan that helped her see what she CAN do, which is more than she thought!  

What a life lesson. Have you ever tried to do more than you can do because you’re comparing yourself to others? It ends in disaster just as Sally’s Ironman in Coeur d”Alene last year. She was sick for over 3 months. Do you try to overcome sin in your own power? Are you trying to go through life without a mentor? Do you have a devotional plan for your life? What are your goals for your race of life?

God has a plan for your life. Get a mentor who will help you ask the right questions of yourself so that you are training according to God’s plan, not your own. This is the only way you will not try to do more than you can. But with God’s plan, you will always be able to do more than you thought possible. So be intentional about knowing God’s plan for your life. Get a mentor. Train hard.

Paul says it like this in Philippians 3:14,I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.”



Run to Win

Yesterday I spent the day being Sally’s support team and chairman of her fan club during the Wisconsin Ironman in Madison. For those who don’t know the specifics of an Ironman, it beings with a 2.4 mile swim, then transitions to a 112 mile bike ride, and ends with a 26.2 mile run. This is truly a race of endurance and it without a doubt my favorite race event (or any sporting event for that matter) to attend. I enjoy these races so much because I am always inspired by the dedication and commitment of the athletes.

The participants in the Wisconsin Ironman reported they trained for 18-30 hours per week for the race. It’s an event you don’t just decide to do a week in advance and then compete. It takes preparation, planning, dedication, passion, and commitment to do the ultimate endurance race. Even the race day routine requires planning and commitment. Sally, for instance, awakens at 3:30 am for the standard 7:00 am race start. She eats, stretches, does her warm-up exercises, reads her Bible, gets mentally prepared, and then goes to the event by 5:30 am to make sure everything is ready for the entire race.

As I watched the race unfold yesterday, I thought of Paul’s words in 1Corinthians 9:24-27, Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one receives the prize? So run that you may obtain it. Every athlete exercises self-control in all things. They do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable. So I do not run aimlessly; I do not box as one beating the air. But I discipline my body and keep it under control, lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified.” 

The race of life is truly an endurance run that requires even more preparation, planning, dedication, passion, and commitment to cross the finish line than does an Ironman. And yet how often do we treat this race of life as a saunter in the park that requires no training whatsoever? We too often act as though it doesn’t matter how we spend our time, what we read or watch, how we treat others, or whether or not we practice forgiveness. We eat what we want, do what we want, or live how we want without any thought of God’s call to run the race to be with Him. The incredible truth about this race is that God is our biggest fan, the best possible coach, and to top it off He actually runs with us every step of the way.

Yesterday I was inspired to renew my training for the race of life. Today I hired God to be my Coach. I’ll blog more about that later this week. Until then, what will you change in your life to make sure you win the race?  


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