Hey there, citizen! This post is part of a series I’m working my way through in the month of October, called Swim Your Own Race. If you’d like to start at the beginning (it is a very good place to start, after all) you can do so, right here.


I mentioned previously that the Hubs and I were both competitive swimmers. I use the term loosely in reference to my own swimming career, (I swam in High School) but much more appropriately in reference to Hero Hubs’ career — he started swimming around age ten and swam continuously, all the way to university level, participating in national competitions.

One of the Hubs’ dreams was to represent South Africa internationally before his swimming career was done. But when he was in his early twenties, his race took a couple of unexpected turns (out of the pool) that made that dream seem like an impossibility.


During HH’s time at university, he followed a girl he was interested in to church and truly met Jesus instead. His life was changed, his heart was changed, and this place that felt empty for a long time was suddenly full, with hope, with joy… with the many gifts that come from meeting your Creator and finding yourself in a place where you have a deep understanding of what it means that He gave His Son for you. Life was beautiful.

But not long after, his Dad’s business took a very sharp downturn in a down economy and he was sequestrated. He and my mother-in-love lost everything that was in Dad’s name, and it was a very dark, very low, very tough time for them.

HH made an assessment of the situation and prayed about what he should do. His parents were sending him to university, and he still had three semesters left. He decided if he set aside his swimming career, he could finish school in just one semester and reduce the financial burden to his parents. It seemed clear in his heart that this was the right course of action, so the decision was made.

He set aside the dream to follow the leading of God.

I wonder about what might’ve been in Mark’s heart at this point. I think of this Scripture and wonder:

As for God, His way is blameless;
The word of the Lord is tried;
He is a shield to all who take refuge in Him.
For who is God, but the Lord?
And who is a rock, except our God,
The God who girds me with strength
And makes my way blameless?
He makes my feet like hinds’ feet,
And sets me upon my high places. {Psalm 18: 30 – 33}

Sometimes we are asking God to bring us to high places, but the path seems to head in the opposite direction.

There’s a beautiful moment in a beautiful book called Hinds Feet on High Places that I’ve mentioned here once before. The main character is told that instead of continuing to climb the mountain she’s hoping to climb, she is going to have to first go down into a valley, through a desert. The path seems to be taking her away from the High Places she is hoping to reach, so she calls to the Shepherd who has been leading her on this journey.

“Oh no,” she cried, “You can’t mean it. You said if I would trust You, You would bring me to the High Places, and that path leads right away from them. It contradicts all that You promised.”

“No,” said the Shepherd. “It is not a contradiction, only postponement for the best to become possible.”

I wonder what was in Mark’s heart when he let go of the dream — I think he thought he was setting down his swimming career then. Or did he hope somehow for his dream it to still be possible?

Around this time, the team that would represent South Africa in the World Student Games was being chosen. The World Student Games are similar to the Olympics in magnitude, competition and the experience itself… kind of a big deal.

HH’s name was on the waiting list — if another swimmer decided to drop out, he’d get the call that he was being invited to join the team. It seemed like his swimming career was as good as done, so he settled into the idea that he should focus on his studies and finish his time at University as quickly as possible.

Do you ever wonder what the disciples felt like when they watched the Man they’d followed for three years being buried in a tomb? What it meant to them, in their finite understanding of who Jesus was and the kind of change they thought he was going to bring to their own lives, to the Jewish people in oppression? How could the Christ be crucified and this be the right story?

It probably seemed very contradictory to what they’d hoped for.

Sometimes when we’re willing to lay down our dreams, God brings about a Resurrection. Sometimes the path moves in a direction other than the one we’re hoping for, and it is postponement for the best to become possible.

As you might imagine, Mark’s story didn’t end there. A few days later, he got the phone call that he was on the team that would represent South Africa in the World Student Games. His team traveled to Japan, he had a wonderful adventure, and he had the privilege of representing his beloved country in international competition.

I wonder where you are in your race today. Is there perhaps a dream you’ve laid down? Are you watching other people swimming laps while you feel like you’re still behind the starting blocks waiting for a whistle?

Hold tightly to the God whose way is blameless. His Word is tried and can be trusted. He can make your feet like hinds’ feet and cause you to walk on high places, but you must know that sometimes those high places are on the other side of a deep valley. Our limited understanding seldom pictures something coming to pass the way the Lord sees it. No mind has seen, no ear has heard… We are not fully aware of the great, interwoven tapestry He is weaving with our lives.

Don’t worry what He is doing in the lanes on the right and the left side of yours. Keep swimming your race, keeping your eyes fixed on Him. Trust that with God, even the hard places of postponement are places where the seeds are sown for a harvest of amazing, that would not have otherwise been possible.