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A Swimmer's Heart

I must say that I am completely astonished at the number of you who have watched my youngest daughter Chloe’s swim race that I posted on Facebook late last night. We’re talking hundreds. In fact, currently it’s just a few views shy of 1000. The only reason that I even posted it last night was so that her grandparents who live far away could see it.

But I have to admit that I kept thinking about it all day myself.

So why have people who don’t even know Chloe been watching? I think it’s because our souls desire to be inspired. We love when we get to see the heart come to life outside of the body.

If you haven’t seen it, let me give you a quick summary. Chloe is 14, an 8th grader, and was swimming the 200 IM (Individual Medley) for the first time ever. This is a race where the swimmers begin with the butterfly stroke down the length of the pool and back (50 yards). That is followed by 50 yards of the backstroke, 50 yards of breaststroke, and finished off with 50 yards of freestyle.

Chloe is typically pretty mild-mannered. She doesn’t tend to get overly worked up about things most days. Loves to hang out on the couch watching tv. Goes with the flow of whatever big sister, Reagan, wants to do and doesn’t usually assert her will too much.

The starting buzzer sounded last night, and Chloe was immediately in third place after just a few strokes. Oh yea, there were only three swimmers. By the end of the first 50, she was still holding steady in third place. But as backstroke and breaststroke kicked in, she made it solidly into second place, even edging out the leader for a few strokes.

But in the last 50, when exhaustion started to creep in, she faltered. With only about 15 yards remaining, the leader was a full body length ahead of her. Then it happened.

Her heart turned inside out and made its way to the ends of her fingers and the tips of her toes, energizing every muscle in between. In what is best summarized by Reagan’s words when she saw the video (she couldn't be there, but has swam competitively for six years herself), “THERE’S NO WAY.”

But there was.

Even after watching it several times myself and knowing the ending, I still find my heart beating faster and my knuckles clenching as I watch her fight stroke by incredible stroke up the length of the leader’s body until she is neck and neck. And then she pulls ahead in the last amazing reach to the wall. Victory.

She was left clinging to the wall, shoulders heaving and gulping for breath.

What I’ve been thinking about though is what you DIDN’T see on the video. After the IM, Chloe came over to me asking for ibuprofen because she had a headache and informed me that she hadn’t felt good all afternoon. She looked pale and wasn’t sure if she could finish the meet.

Then I said, “Boy, did you rock that IM.” The corners of her mouth twitched up in a slight smile as her eyes looked up and met mine. And with steely determination she replied, “I wanted to win. I caught a glimpse of the girl's feet in front of me in the next lane and thought, 'I didn't work this hard to come in second place.'"

What if we wanted to win like that in our faith? In our witness? In our service? In our Bible study? In our prayer life? In our relationship with Jesus? IN OUR PART FOR THE KINGDOM OF GOD?

We THINK that we are giving all that we can possibly give of our time, talent, money, etc. for God, but are we really? Have we ever gotten to the point where we are TOTALLY spent spiritually? Where we are left gulping for breath?

THAT is what I’ve thought about the most today. Sure, I’m happy for Chloe that she did well last night, but next week could easily be a different story. What inspires me is that she now KNOWS what it feels like to give her all. To give everything she’s got until there is nothing left to pour out. And she will race differently from now on BECAUSE she knows how emptying herself out feels.

I want to know how emptying myself out feels in my walk with Jesus. I don’t want to give a good effort. I don’t even want to give my best effort. I want to give ALL of my effort.

Paul’s words are quoted so much, but they sure came to life for me these past few hours. “For I am already being poured out as a drink offering.... I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.” (2 Timothy 4:6-7 HCSB)

May we turn our hearts inside out spiritually and become energized to win this race before us, stroke by stroke, moment by moment.

#encouragement #growth

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