The Lord is my light and my salvation. Should I fear anyone? The Lord is a fortress protecting my life. Psalm 27:1
Reading Psalm 27 this morning, I feel David’s heart. I knew exactly what he felt because I’ve been there. IronMan Florida 2011. After my first triathlon at Disney World in Orlando 2005, God set a desire in my heart to be an IronMan. At the time the Olympic triathlon I just completed was momentous. The one-mile swim followed by a 26-mile bike and at 6-mile run was nothing in comparison to the IronMan distances of 2.4-mile swim, 112-mile bike and 26.2-mile run. At the time, it didn’t matter; I knew God would get me there. After the death of James in 2009, I believed I would never compete again because all passion was gone. But in God’s faithfulness He returned the passion and after two attempts I did finish and become an IronMan!
Yesterday, like most Sundays, I ran at Deerfield Beach. I always stop at my “spot” on the beach and reflect on God’s goodness and majesty as I stand on the rocks and look at the vast open ocean. It comforts me and I love to feel His presence there. This particular day I noticed jellyfish washed up on the shore. So beautiful as they reflect the early morning sunrise and deceptively painful at the same time. An uninformed beach goer may think they are harmless but I know differently for I have experienced the sting of these beautiful creatures on more than one occasion.
There is a memory of IronMan and jellyfish I will never forget and David reminds me of this morning. Let me take you back to that eventful day, November 5, 2011 sunrise on Panama City Beach, Florida, the start of IronMan. Words can’t empress the feeling right before an IronMan, anxiety, fear, excitement, anticipation, dread, elation. I just want to get in the water and get this thing started! Anticipating a 17-hour day of swim, bike, run, never stopping and always striving for the finish line, I stand at the water’s edge with several thousand other athletes ready for the adventure of a lifetime. The horn sounds and we all dive in and get started on the 2 loop, 2.4 mile swim. I struggle to calm my body and emotions and get into a rhythm, navigating through the crowd of swimmers and longing for calmer waters. Finally we get past the breaking waves and I can “rest” in the rhythm of my breathing and strokes when I spot something beautiful yet frightening…jellyfish. Not just one or two as is common to see but a school of them. My only choice is to swim right through them. My entire body is covered in a wet suit with only my hands, feet and face exposed. I shut my eyes even though I am wearing protective goggles, and pray, God protect me, as I swim through. The air temperature that morning was 43 degrees, which made the water, temp around 73 degrees. The wetsuit was necessary for this Florida girl whose body would go into shock in those conditions. I put my head down and press through the water at a quicker but efficient pace. My feet seemed to kick a bit harder and my breathing increased but I made it through the hundreds of shinning, translucent, poisonous creatures. As I swim around the buoy, I know I am on my way back to shore. I exit the water; run across the timing mat and head back to the entrance, I have to do that again. I see Avery on the shore and she can tell from the look on my face I am not happy. I realize at that point that my foot is throbbing; I was stung on my foot by a jellyfish. She reassures me that my time is great but I don’t feel like it, I am discouraged and hopeless that I will finish the swim on time, nevertheless, I head back in for lap number two. I tried to refocus as my foot became numb due to the coldness of the water. I get past the breaking ocean waves and head back out to smoother waters. With that calm water comes the same school of jellyfish. I tried to anticipate it better this time and know that God will protect me again. This time the fear didn’t overcome me and I swam through them as if they didn’t exist. The Lord is a fortress for my life. Whom shall I fear? Upon exit of the swim, still feeling defeated, but with no good reason, I blogged this after, ”But when I exited the swim, I was not happy, feeling like I fought a tough battle out there. I resolved to focus my mind on the bike since I couldn’t change the swim, all the while disappointed in my swim finish. I found out later that it was 11 minutes faster than last year. The enemy was already trying to discourage me on what would be my greatest adventure with God. “
Does the enemy use unnecessary fear to steal your peace as he tried to do that day for me? Remember that the Lord is your light and your salvation. Should you fear anyone? The Lord is a fortress protecting your life! Claim it and just keep swimming.