The world is abuzz with the breathtaking phenomena of Michael Phelps. Many claim that his accomplishments as an athlete surpasses even the greatest athletes from history for he has achieved the seeming impossible. Eight gold medals and seven broken world records in one Olympic event has never before been realized. What is the composition of this young man? He seems like a swimming machine that keeps on producing.
A few facts about his preparation struck a chord in me. The coach highlighted an important principle about Michael’s training that changed him from being a good athlete into becoming a great athlete. He related how he purposely drove Michael to the point of exhaustion where he felt like he had nothing left to give….and then asked him for more. It is only when we are in that place of depletion that we really discover what we are made of. What do we do when we are at that place in life?
Our spiritual walk with God can sometimes be compared to Michael’s training for the Olympics. Can you imagine him just showing up at the swim meets without the intensive training beforehand? What happened if he just rested on his accomplishments at the last Olympics and then tried to deliver this year? One does not have to be a rocket scientist to answer these questions. Of course…Michael would barely be able to make it off the starting platform. In our daily life we are being trained for the day when we have to deliver in some great event. For some it is just one event that we are being trained for all our life and for others there may be several. What happens when we find our self in midst of a major crisis when we haven’t been trained in spiritual disciplines before hand? I think we can all guess the outcome.
Now is the time to dig our wells and stop depending on “foreign oil.” We need to have a history of knowing how to draw upon the grace of God to sustain us in the midst of hard times. Sometimes we are called upon to keep believing in a good God when circumstances shout against this truth. Abraham was given a promise of a son and waited for years before it was fulfilled. His body was as good as dead and Sarah’s womb was way past the age of fruit bearing. But, against all hope in hope he believed and became the father of many. What separates the good from the great in the sphere of saints? I believe it is what one does at this point of hope or faith-energy depletion. In Lamentations the writer laments how his heart has been pierced and how he has become the laughing stock of all his friends. He moans over his many afflictions, his wonderings, his loss of prosperity and splendor and his soul becomes downcast. Surely he can say that God has forgotten him and that there is no hope. But, he digs deep within his self and recalls to mind the Lord’s great love and therefore has hope. He declares that because of God’s great love he is not consumed and that his love is new every morning. The Lord is his portion; therefore he will wait in hope for his deliverance. He is fully convinced that God is good to those who put their hope in him. At the point of hope depletion, against all hope in the natural, he hopes in God’s love and turns his cheek in loving trust to the one who would strike him. He is confident that God is the one that brings both calamities and good things so why should he complain. Only God can speak and have it come about.
The swimmers competing against Michael Phelps still swam as if they could win. They did not stop believing and gave it all they got. In these last days let us lay hold of this hope that believes in the love and goodness of God and our ultimate victory over sin, suffering and death in Yeshua. Many of us will be at that point of hope depletion and will be called on to keep “swimming,” to press on to take hold of prize that awaits us. We cannot look to the right or the left in comparing our “lot” with others. Therefore, we hope in the glory of God. Not only so, we rejoice in our suffering for we know and are confident that our suffering strengthens us in faith, enlarges our heart and expands our ability to give and receive love. We can win this race if we do not give up but persevere, being fully persuaded that God is able to bring us and keep us to the end. Against all hope, we continue in hope.