DayBreaks for 11/29/17: The Hardest Part is Getting in the Water
From the DayBreaks archive, November 2007:
Have you ever competed in any kind of sports? When I was in high school, I played basketball, tennis, football and ran a little track. I found the competition very exciting. I loved basketball above all other sports. I remember one game, I was fouled with 2 seconds to play. We were behind by 1 point so I had a chance to win the game. The opposing coach called a timeout, intent on “icing” me – making me think about whether or not I’d be able to make the shots or whether I’d miss. We were playing in the opposing team’s home gym. The crowd was pressed all around the court and they were yelling. The official blew the whistle and we walked back onto the court and I took my position at the free-throw line. I missed the first shot, and then I missed the second shot. I had failed. I felt awful – like I’d let my teammates down, my coach down, my school down. I wanted to bury my head in the sand and never come up again.
The next week, we were playing a different team, this time in our home gym. Can anyone say “Déjà vu?” Unbelievably, the scenario was repeated. Down by 1 with just a few ticks of the clock, and I was fouled while shooting. Once again, the opposing team coach called timeout. My mind was spinning with the irony of it all – and the horror at what had happened the previous week. After the timeout, I went to the free-throw line and made the first free-throw. At least now the game was tied and at worst, we’d go into overtime. The second free-throw also went through and I was a hero for the rest of the day.
What made the difference between the first game and the second? Hard to say. But one thing I know: in the intervening time, I made a determined effort to shoot a LOT of free throws at every practice. After practice, I’d go home and shoot free throws at the hoop on the back patio. I can’t begin to guess how many free throws I shot between the first and second game. To this day I don’t know if that’s why I made the shots during the second game, or if it was just God’s blessing. And frankly, at the time, I didn’t care too much why – I was just relieved.
Kim Linehan held the world record in the Women’s 1500-meter freestyle. According to her coach at the time, Paul Bergen, said his 18-year old was the leading amateur woman distance swimmer in the world. She would exercise endlessly, swimming 7 to 12 miles a day. Someone once asked her what was the hardest part of her regimen. She replied: “Getting in the water.”
It is difficult to make strong beginnings. It is difficult, day after day to get in the water, to step up to the free throw line and practice. It is difficult, day after day to step up to the plate and take swings at being a Christ-like man or woman. It would be so much easier to just stay in bed, to skip the practice, to circumvent the discipline. But one thing is sure if we do that: we’ll never know or experience victory. All we’ll know is defeat.
Maybe this morning you feel as if you’ve just about had it. You’re ready to surrender to that temptation that just keeps nagging you. You’re ready to throw in the towel on your marriage. You’re sick and tired of working so hard and getting so little recognition for it.
Get in the water. Once you do, good things start to happen. Practice the spiritual disciplines that will equip you to win when hard times come, that hone your responses to a fine, shining point. And never forget that it isn’t really you that gains any victory, it’s Jesus!
PRAYER: When we are weary, God, tempted to not make the effort to be what you want us to be and to do what you want us to do, change our hearts and charge us with new fire from above. Help us to do our part and get in the water and leave it up to you whether we walk on the surface or swim! In Jesus’ name, Amen.
Copyright by 2017 by Galen C. Dalrymple.