Day 25: The One About Rest

Hello, how are you, g’day and welcome to you! 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. You can also find a link to all the posts in this series on Day One. I hope you enjoy diving in!


It was sometime during my junior year in high school, but it was such an odd experience I remember it like it was yesterday. All my teammates were in the pool, and I was standing by the pool fully dressed. I’d gone to my coach with words I just didn’t quite understand myself, but I did my best to explain, “I don’t really know why, Coach, I just can’t get in the pool today.”

The sport I loved so much almost repulsed me. The thought of putting on my suit and getting ready for another practice was so itchy and uncomfortable and just plain awful, I just couldn’t bring myself to do it.

My coach was very gracious and said it was okay, and I got in my car and drove home.

That strange and uncomfortable feeling passed, and I think I was probably right back in the pool the next day. But why did every ounce of my being want to refuse to swim that day?

My best guess is I just needed some rest.


I was in the middle of a busy year at school, pummeling my way through difficult classes while participating in lots of extra curricular activities, and I think that day my body was just saying: Be still.

Sometimes our bodies tell us to be still with the gentle warning signs that we might be getting sick: minor headaches, scratchy throats, stomach ulcers, and so on, and we don’t necessarily want to listen to them. We want to keep going, keep pushing, keep doing doing doing.

Sometimes our minds give us a good indication that they need some breathing room, we struggle to focus on one thing, we’re constantly trying to work in several different directions, our thoughts are hazy and cloudy and don’t make sense.

We just looked at the clock and have no idea what time it is.

I recently read an article in the Washington Post in which pediatric occupational therapist, Angela Hanscom, discussed what seems to be an ADHD epidemic, and how so much of the problem could actually have to do with the lack of time that children have to play outside, run, spin and jump and just live inside their own bodies, exploring their world.

Her article made a big splash in the educational community, and in a follow-up piece, she described a specific interaction with a parent, some teachers and a school administrator, who were concerned about a particular child who had not been flourishing at school, but showed great potential after experiencing the therapist’s nature-based development program, which fosters creativity through independent play outdoors. Hanscom was invited to this educational meeting, and her recommendation, in the situation of this particular child, was that he needed an hour long recess to play outside each day.

All of the teachers present in the room burst out laughing at this suggestion.

Why? Because there are time restraints and curriculum restraints and heaps of bureaucratic reasons why an hour-long recess is impossible in public school today.

The system is cutting back on the time for recess — which for children, is really a time for rest. Sure, they are physically active when they’re outside, but mentally, they’re not staring at a chalkboard or reading a book, or participating in any other type of classroom-based learning. While childhood obesity and ADHD continue to rise, the system says it cannot afford to give kids time away from the classroom.

There is just too much work that has to be done.

Could this school-related example really be a telling sign of the times?

Are we so convinced that all our toiling and scurrying about under the sun is so meaningful that we cannot give in to the idea that we need to rest?

How often do we go to the doctor because we want the medicine that will cure us, when a hot cup of tea and taking it easy for a few days would probably do the job better?

You may have heard this point a thousand times before, but it has to be repeated because we just aren’t getting it:

God set a pattern when He created the world in six days and rested on the seventh. He actions said to us, “Work is great and very good things come from work, but rest is important, too.” If even the Creator of the universe decides to stop and rest, shouldn’t we?

How are you doing with allowing yourself to really rest? Does taking a day to rest just look like you, working hard at something else? Do you get outside to recharge your batteries? If you have children, have you been outside to play with them lately?

Rest diffuses the stress of the way that we live in this world.

Rest invites peace into our frenetic pace.

Rest creates opportunities for our bodies and our souls to just be human beings instead of always human doings.

An important part of swimming your own race is knowing when not to dive into the pool. If you are constantly going, and never allowing yourself the space to breathe, take a nap, read a book you don’t have to read, look at clouds, or just stare out the window for a while, chances are making a rest a priority will make your school or work life better and your family life better. Most important, it will empower  you to “swim” with endurance the race that is set before you

Make a plan and block out the schedule…let the world keep on spinning, while you get some rest.


Day 24: Who Else is Watching Your Race (Part 2)

Hello, how are you, g’day and welcome to you! 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. You can also find a link to all the posts in this series on Day One. I hope you enjoy diving in!


Yesterday, a little discussion began with some not-so-great-news, that may not have been news to you at all. Briefly put, the discussion turned to the enemy of our souls, who uses deception, discouragement and division, among a myriad of other tools in the arsenal, with the intention of getting us off track on the race that we’re running. We should not be ignorant of his devices, but sometimes, we are.

Although there are other tools in the arsenal, today I just want to focus on mentioning one, because I think it is probably one of the most effective tools for pulling present day Christians away from the faith, and a solid focus on their race:


Anyone who has ever parented a small child knows what a useful tool distraction can be. The child is focused on a piece of candy in the grocery store, and in order to avoid creating a scene, you distract them with the possibility of some other reward, or even a toy or treat from your purse, so that the shopping can continue without your child screaming like a banshee.

Sometimes a baby who’s been fed, changed, had a nap, isn’t thirsty, and seems right in every other way just needs you to step outside with her and give her some good old fashioned natural distraction.

And after the football snaps, everyone knows that the quarterback who just handed off the ball to a running back will usually still keep his arms close to his chest and run for a while in the opposite direction. Why? Because he wants to distract the opponent from recognizing what is happening in the play for as long as possible.

Distraction can be a powerful tool, but it can also have serious consequences.


Distracted driving is becoming THE problem that police are concerned about on the roads — some researchers indicate that texting while driving is six times more dangerous than driving drunk. How many lives have already been lost because someone was distracted behind the wheel?

Distracted parenting is very dangerous, too. My heart still aches for the mother who lost one of her children when the older child drowned the younger in the bathtub while she was in a different room on Facebook.

While social media can perhaps have some redeeming qualities, the distraction of social media is perhaps one of the newest and most powerful tools inside the arsenal of our enemy.

Not only does seeing the highlights of other people’s lives often discourage us into believing our life is second rate, and deceive us into thinking God is withholding good from us but blessing everyone else, but it also distracts us from the real mission that we have on this earth. While we are busy comparing, or even just enjoying the highlights of our friends and acquaintances, life is happening all around us and opportunities to focus on our race and serve God with enthusiasm are diminishing.

I wonder if the enemy sometimes thinks, what I’ve thought about my children before: The worst thing I can do for them is give them just about everything they want.

Last night on the way home in the car, I listened to a news report of significant fear throughout many west african nations about vaccinations. Many people believe that vaccinations for significant childhood diseases like polio are actually western attempts at injecting people with the ebola virus, or sterilizing children so they are no longer able to reproduce.

I regularly receive emails from World Vision about water issues and hunger crises that are opportunities for the western world to step in and make such a big difference in the lives of people in poverty around the world.

Are we too distracted to give some time and thought to how we could make a difference in these situations?

While we are perhaps distracted from remembering the positive impact we can have around the world because we are very focused on our own little slice of western society (how many Facebook friends do we have in Somalia?), we are simultaneously missing the opportunity for real connection, real interaction, and important real life that is happening right in front of us all the time.

While I almost never try to carry on with a long phone call while with my children, yesterday I was on the phone with a friend when I returned from picking the Tank up from preschool. By the time we made it from my minivan into my house, two children were crying, one because she couldn’t go outside, it was lunch time, the other for something his brother did that I didn’t see.

It was as if my own distractedness somehow created a playground for the enemy to get to work.

I shared a couple of weeks ago how disappointing it is when we photograph weddings, and take pictures of people whom the bride is walking right past, going down the aisle, who are watching her, while she’s four feet away, on the four inch screen of the iPhone, instead of right there in real life. These couples paid professional photographers to capture their wedding day — why aren’t the guests able to be present and live and enjoy this moment? Because they are thinking about posting it to social media once the moment’s over. But isn’t it funny — in a way, we actually miss the moment when we try to “capture” it with our phone. We might post it for our friends, but were we really all there?

Are we so often looking down that we forget to look up?

Our unpleasant habit of constantly seeking entertainment and rejecting quiet and living with our noses near our screens is causing us to miss out on real moments with our real spouses and real children and the real friends around us, and more important, to be present enough to see the opportunities we have each day to serve and to glorify a very real God.

Jim Elliot once said, ““Wherever you are, be all there! Live to the hilt every situation you believe to be the will of God.”

Wouldn’t we be a force to be reckoned with, if we were fully present and thinking of God’s purposes in every situation?

Here’s the thing, friends. God has a beautiful, incredible plan for your life. But there is a snake in the grass who would love to keep you too distracted to swim the race God has planned for you. It is hard to hear the voice of the Lord saying This is the way, walk in it, when there are so many other voices competing for our attention.

A turn for us will take daily, conscious, deliberate decisions. A decision to turn away from distraction and turn toward focus. A decision to turn off the TV and turn the pages of the most incredible book ever written. A decision to turn away from excessive consumption of social media and turn toward the real life opportunities for connection and interaction that we are missing because of our distraction.

We cannot love our neighbors — the people we live in community with both locally and globally, if we are too distracted for genuine interaction.

If I could ask one thing of you today, I’d ask you to look at your own patterns. Observe your own interactions with your family, your friends and co-workers. Are you sitting on the sidelines distracted? Does the thought to offer a prayer for a friend in need cross your mind? The thought to invite someone new to join you for dinner or church? The thought to speak the name of Jesus in a world that desperately needs to hear it?

With God in us, we have the potential to be fiercely faithful, gloriously taking back the ground the enemies of God would attempt to take for their own.

But storming the gates will require discipline of mind and focus, and a deliberate decision to daily swim the race God created each of us to swim.

Where are you today? Be all there. Live for God’s glory and refuse to be distracted from the deep and abiding reasons you were created. You were made for a story that is nothing short of glorious.



Day 23: Who Else is Watching Your Race

Hello, how are you, g’day and welcome to you! 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. You can also find a link to all the posts in this series on the Day One. I hope you enjoy diving in!


If there’s one thing that’s not a super popular discussion-starter, it’s the part where we talk about the enemy of our souls. The fact that we have an enemy that doesn’t want us to succeed is just not a happy thought. The truth is, however, we do have an enemy, as Paul said in his letter to the Corinthians “for we are not ignorant of his devices.” {2 Cor. 2:11b}

But the tough thing is we are (at least a little bit) ignorant of his devices. We forget that Satan “prowls about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour.” We forget the calling to “resist him, steadfast in the faith, knowing that the same sufferings are experienced by your brotherhood in the world.” {1 Peter 5:8}

So in case no one ever has before, let me pull back the curtain on a couple of areas where some of us might be ignorant of his devices. Because the truth is, he sees you, he knows you’re running this race, and it’s not a stretch to think that his leagues of minions are involved in doing the work of defeating you, so that your race is not the gloriously incredible story God created it to be.



The greatest lie the enemy of our souls will ever put forth is to believe that he doesn’t exist, or perhaps just that if he does, that his existence has no bearing on our lives whatsoever. If we believe that, we are deceived. If we believe the Bible is the inerrant Word of God, then we cannot simultaneously believe that 1) we don’t actually have an enemy or 2) his movements have no bearing on our lives.

Deception can come in many forms. We might be deceived into believing our husband or wife no longer loves or cares for us, when they actually love us just as much today as they did yesterday. We might be deceived into believing that something we’re working toward is too hard for us, and we’re meeting too much resistance, so we’re not supposed to do it. Some wonderful thoughts are whispers that come from the voice of God, some of our thoughts are our own, but some, unfortunately, are whispers from the enemy. If you can be deceived, you can perhaps be sidetracked from swimming your race.


Similarly, the enemy of our souls loves to discourage us. One example — that we’re trying to do something we’re not capable of doing. I sensed the Lord directing me to write for 31 Days again this year. As the month has progressed, I’ve sensed the enemy of my soul just whispering — you can’t finish or you shouldn’t keep going. Or other similarly discouraging things.

Satan loves to fool us into thinking we’re disqualified when we’re not. We spoke earlier this month about disqualification, and the truth that we are all now qualified because Jesus swam the race that qualified us all to become the children of God, rightly-related to Him by way of the forgiveness paid for with the cross. But we are often discouraged or deceived, to think that we haven’t done enough, haven’t earned it yet, or we’re just not good enough to be eligible for that forgiveness and reconciliation. We believe we’re disqualified, when in truth, the very fact that we’re sinners is what qualifies us!


Oh how the enemy of our souls loves division! God desires His body to have many parts, but be one whole. He wants us to show the world that we are Christians by our love for one another. But we fall so short, and sometimes that’s because there’s a wolf in the sheepfold. Perhaps Satan whispers that we deserve some placement or position we feel we’re not getting in our church. Perhaps, like Paul discussed with the Corinthians, we are offended by something and choose to hold onto unforgiveness. Instead of letting it go and forgiving, we allow the enemy a foothold to our very souls where all sorts of bitterness, anger and resentment can begin to grow and bear fruit.

We think that division comes over significant issues of the faith, but often it comes because we are human and simply couldn’t learn to forgive, to find compromise and learn to get along. We want to be preferred and we feel entitled to — I’ll just stop dancing around the most important word for all this — we’re prideful. We are so prideful.

And from the beginning, pride was the tool the enemy used to pull the children of God away from right relationship with God.

Remember what the serpent said to Eve? {See Genesis 3 for the whole story.}

“Has God indeed said, ‘You shall not eat of every tree in the garden’?”

And she said, “We can eat the fruit of the trees in the garden, but of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, God has said, ‘You shall not eat it, nor shall you touch it, lest you die.'”

And pay close attention to the serpent’s response... Then the serpent said to the woman, “You will not surely die. For God knows that in the day you eat of it your eyes will be opened and you will be like God, knowing good from evil.”

When Satan fell, why did he fall? Pride. He wanted to be like God.

When Adam & Eve fell, why did they fall? Pride. They wanted to be like God. They didn’t believe that God knew what was best for them. They were deceived into believing that God was withholding something good from them. They thought they knew better, so they ate the fruit, and found out how deceived they really were.

Friends, I think this discussion will continue tomorrow, but here’s what I want to conclude with for now. Please know that the enemy of your souls is prowling about. He wants to deceive you in so many ways. He wants you to believe you are somehow not good enough to swim an amazing race for the glory of God. He wants you to be deceived about the goodness and the trustworthiness of God, and instead to believe that God is withholding good things from you.

Your greatest weapon in this battle is the same weapon Jesus used in His confrontation with the enemy in the wilderness: the Word of God. Before those whispers come, and come they do, dig deep into the Word of God, store it up in your heart, and make sure the truth of God is telling you how to swim your race. If the enemy has anything to say about it, he’ll have you swimming in the wrong lane, headed in the wrong direction, but God has a plan for your race. He has a vision for your story, to be a part of His story, and it is the greatest story that has ever or will ever be told.

So swim your race today friends, not ignorant, but mindful that there’s an enemy interested in sidetracking you today and every day. Remember that the God who takes residence in your heart by way of the Holy Spirit is greater than our enemy in the world. Victory is yours because of Him!


Day 22: A Slice of Daily Bread

Hello, how are you, g’day and welcome to you! 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. You can find a link to all the posts in this series on the first page. I hope you enjoy diving in!


At present, I’m slowly swimming toward the end of a season that has been a bit of a challenge for me. When my Dad passed away, there were two other estates in my family that also needed to be settled in order to settle his. This meant opening three bank accounts, dealing with three sets of assets and researching three sets of liabilities. Looking at how tax liabilities differed based on when each family member passed away, paying three sets of bills to our lawyer and so on.

Today, I’ll be signing the paperwork that will mean the second of those three estates can be closed. (Two down, one to go…) This morning, as I reflected on the challenges I’ve faced in walking through this process, I couldn’t help but consider God’s faithfulness throughout this process.

As I faced the challenge of working my way through getting things done, there were a few times when I hit a wall and just felt I couldn’t keep going. It just felt too challenging to put this task on top of the rest of the things that make up my life.

But somehow, the Lord met me at every bend in the road. I breathed a deep breath, maybe hit the pause button for a day or two, and then carried on.

It has felt a bit like wandering in the wilderness at times, but in a wilderness authored by God, there is always bread.


When God appointed a season for the Israelites to wander in the desert, because of their unwillingness to follow His leading and take the land He promised them, He brought them out to bring something into them. He pulled them away from the distractions and duties of normal life to show them something about His character and His faithfulness.

He didn’t let them faint, even in the desert — a place where life struggles to survive without some serious adaptation. He gave them water to drink, and each day, He made manna fall from heaven so that they would have food to eat.

This daily bread from heaven, which they gathered six days a week (since they gathered double the day before the Sabbath) for forty years, was probably a little bit humbling for them to receive. It might’ve tasted sweet and been a good filling meal, but having it day after day and year after year eventually frustrated them and caused them to get angry with God. They didn’t want to continue wandering in the desert, they didn’t want to keep eating manna. But they hadn’t yet learned the incredible faithfulness and incomparable holiness of the God that chose them to be His people.

It was hard to be humble and to just keep being faithful.

We don’t always value faithfulness these days. We certainly don’t want to eat the same thing every day, wear the same thing or do the same thing. We like change and new tastes and new places and new experiences. We redecorate as the seasons change and look forward to out with the old and in with the new.

But there are so many lessons for us, so much we can learn, so many ways we can be stretched and our faith strengthened, in seasons where we aren’t called to the new and different and exciting and amazing — we are just called to be faithful.

It’s humbling to just keep being faithful.

I felt I was nearly on the verge of a breaking point (again) about a week ago.  Then I received a phone call that I could go sign the paperwork to close the first estate.

God knew what I needed and when I needed it and at every turn in this nineteen-month journey, He has given me the bread I needed to keep going.

Our challenge to trust God through every circumstance we might face in our lives is a challenge to trust His faithfulness to give us our daily bread. Why is it daily bread? Why don’t I give my children seven days worth of breakfast on Monday morning? I’m pretty sure they couldn’t ration their breakfast enough to make it to Thursday.

Why doesn’t God give us everything we want right now? Because He cares about us, and knows best how to give us what we need when we need it.

These words have been a source of encouragement to my soul for many years now:

Trust in the Lord, and do good;
Dwell in the land, and feed on His faithfulness.
Delight yourself also in the Lord,
And He shall give you the desires of your heart. {Psalm 37: 3-4, NKJV}

How about this instruction to feed on His faithfulness? Remembering, enjoying, savoring and giving thanks for the faithfulness of God — this is very good nourishment, food for our souls. We delight in Him when we think about His goodness, rejoice that He is good, and enjoy entering His presence with praise and thanksgiving. And as we trust that He is good, and we drink deeply of the well of His faithfulness, so He meets us and gives us the desires of our heart when He sees that the timing is right.

Perhaps you’re in a wilderness now. In the race you’re swimming, you feel humbled by what your life requires of you. It is hard to be faithful when you can’t see any change on the horizon. But God cares more about the character He is forming in us than about just making us happy. Your faith can be proved and improved in the wilderness like no where else.

Be encouraged there, and keep your eyes wide open. You will see God’s faithfulness, even in the driest of deserts.

In a wilderness authored by God, there is always bread.


Day 21: Focus and its Power

Hello, how are you, g’day and welcome to you! 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 hope you enjoy diving in!


Some of the hardest practice days for me as a swimmer were the days where we were zoning in to focus on improving something very specific. With hands on resting on a kick board, we’d kick our way up and down the length of the pool, back and forth, and by the end of the session, my legs were usually burning. Or, we’d have a pool buoy between our legs, so that we weren’t kicking — we were just using our arms to pull ourselves from one end of the pool to the other. By the end of those practice sessions, my arms felt like jello.

If we decided to focus on breast stroke or butterfly, I was probably tempted to call in sick. While I managed to learn to swim fly reasonably well, I was never very strong at it, because I didn’t focus on it very often. My breast stroke was very slow and pretty lousy for the same reason — I didn’t spend enough time giving those strokes my focused attention in order to improve.

Purposeful focus creates opportunities for improvement.

As photographers, an important part of our job is focus. In a very literal sense. We shoot manually, which means instead of letting the camera decide the aperture, shutter speed or ISO to correctly expose an image, we take the time to look at our setting, and choose each of those settings. As the light changes and the scene changes, we make adjustments to compensate. The image, however, will not turn out well if we forget to focus.

We’ve had clients specifically ask us if we have the ability to take pictures where the people in front are in focus and the background is out of focus. We love to shoot this way, and it puts a big smile on our face that even if they don’t understand the technicality behind creating that sort of image, they do appreciate the beauty of choosing to focus on one particular subject and allowing the things around it to be out of focus.

While I won’t go too far into the technicality of creating images with “blurry backgrounds,” I’ll just explain that the camera setting for Aperture determines the depth of field for an image. Simply put, creating a large depth of field means choosing to allow a great amount of whatever’s in front of the camera, at any distance, to be in focus. This makes sense for landscape photography, when you see a beautiful scene and you want the camera to take it all in.

Hall Arm 4

{Lots of focus}

Creating a narrow depth of field means that just a sliver of the scene in front of you — the section you choose to focus on — will be in focus, while objects both in front of and behind that sliver are not going to be in focus. Catching a couple leaning up against a tree with Spanish moss in front of them and the river behind them, you might choose a narrow depth of field, so that the Spanish moss that’s closer to the camera is blurred and the river is blurred, and your eyes are immediately drawn to the couple by the tree.


{The Belle is in focus, but the trees behind her are not.}

Careful focus will by necessity mean that some things will be in focus, and other things will not.

Without a camera in my hand, I typically have a pretty difficult time focusing. There’s usually a reasonably lengthy list of things I need to accomplish on a particular day, some written down, some floating around in my brain, or calling to me from different corners of my house. I struggle to focus on getting the one thing good and done, when there are so many things I could focus on. I usually have a good number of distractions — they’re not always bad distractions, they just are distracting.

Distraction might just be Focus’s worst enemy.

This season of writing through 31 Days, thinking about life as a race we’re all swimming has provided a more focused way for me to think about faith and write with the hopes of encouraging others to press on. And one particular Scripture has emerged as a focus point, time and time again. Here it is in the Amplified version.

Therefore then, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses [who have borne testimony to the Truth], let us strip off and throw aside every encumbrance (unnecessary weight) and that sin which so readily (deftly and cleverly) clings to and entangles us, and let us run with patient endurance and steady and active persistence the appointed course of the race that is set before us,
Looking away [from all that will distract] to Jesus, Who is the Leader and the Source of our faith [giving the first incentive for our belief] and is also its Finisher [bringing it to maturity and perfection]. He, for the joy [of obtaining the prize] that was set before Him, endured the cross, despising and ignoring the shame, and is now seated at the right hand of the throne of God. {Hebrews 12:1-2, AMP}

These words encourage us to focus. To strip away the hindrances and distractions and to focus in on Jesus. Verse 3 goes on to explain:

Just think of Him Who endured from sinners such grievous opposition and bitter hostility against Himself [reckon up and consider it all in comparison with your trials], so that you may not grow weary or exhausted, losing heart and relaxing and fainting in your minds.

We’re challenged to just think of Him — to just think of Jesus who endured so much — so that we don’t grow weary or exhausted or lose heart.

Have you ever teetered on the edge of losing heart? Have you ever felt like it was all just too much and you had no idea how you were going to get it done or make it through? These hope-filled words promise that the very act of remembering what Jesus endured to finish His race and keep the faith will instantly inspire you to press on and finish yours well.

I read Matthew 26 again just a few days ago, and I felt bombarded, realizing afresh what Jesus went through, all the events surrounding the crucifixion. The scourging and the mocking, the stripping and beating, the crown of thorns and the cross to carry. He suffered at the hands of the very people He lived and died to save.

If we set our minds to a narrow depth of field, this is all that needs to remain in focus.

But we still have stuff to do, Caroline, you’re thinking? Me, too. How do we focus on Jesus and still do the stuff?

We slow down. We ask the Holy Spirit to meet us. God can absolutely be the focus of everything.

Paul wrote to the Corinthians:

Therefore, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God. {1 Cor. 10:31, NKJV}

Whether we are changing a tire or a diaper, folding laundry or negotiating a merger, if Christ is where our hearts are deeply focused, and we can glorify God.

By acting with integrity at a business meeting, by showing kindness in line at the grocery store — we can do the stuff and still show that our lives are focused on the Name and renown of the incredible God who loves us and showed us how to live this way.

Slow down today. Recognize distractions for what they are. Ask for God’s help to slow down and focus. Focus can bring improvement. Focus can create beauty. And ultimately, your life, rightly focused will bring glory to God.



Day 20: Swimming with Resistance

Hello, how are you, g’day and welcome to you! 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 hope you enjoy diving in!


An important part of improving your swimming is training with resistance. Many athletes cross-train, and might do different types of resistance training in the gym, but swimmers also often train with resistance in the pool. They pile on two or three swimsuits to add resistance, swim in panty hose (we enjoyed laughing at the guys when we did this at swim practice in high school) or put on a drag suit — a suit specifically designed to create resistance.

Resistance training forces you to work harder to make your way through the water, and strengthens your muscles in the process.

I used to love to go for jogs in our beautiful neighborhood back in South Africa. We lived in a sweet little village called Gordon’s Bay, and the running joke in the area was that Gordon’s Bay is the place where the wind was born. We moved into a big complex there with houses and apartment buildings that sat on a beautiful harbour.  There were lots of boats and geese and palm trees and the views of the nearby Hottentots Holland mountains were spectacular when the sun set. There was a boardwalk and brick path around part of the harbour that made a great walking or jogging circuit.



On one particular afternoon I went out for a quick jog. The weather was a bit windy, but still nice and mild (for Gordon’s Bay anyway). There weren’t many people in our neighborhood at that time of year, because so many people who own property in the complex just use it for a month or two out of the year. So besides a very occasional hello here and there, it was mostly me, my shoes and my thoughts.

One of those funny moments showed up totally out of the blue — do you know the ones? You just start thinking, Man life is good. This is so lovely. I’m in such a beautiful place. I am glad to be alive. God is good. I kind of marveled at that precious, heart-full-to-bursting moment, and then just smiled thinking wisdom has taught me these moments never last long!

Then I turned a corner to continue the jog out onto the jetty wall which encloses the outermost section of the harbour and what should meet me but BLINDING GALE FORCE WINDS HOWLING PAST MY EARS AND ATTEMPTING TO STOP ME DEAD IN MY TRACKS or blow me into the water. And as life often does, so I was presented with the choice, to jog out onto the jetty as intended, or turn around and enjoy the wind on my back for a while. It’s an Irish proverb after all.

I instantly thought about the moment before. When everything seems to be cheesecake and chocolate soup, you will often come across a bump in the road or a fork in the path. There you meet the opportunity to take the path of least resistance, and it is especially tempting when you are afforded opportunities that will require you to work harder than you want to.

This challenge immediately translates to many areas of life: choosing to tell the truth regardless of the consequences, choosing to act according to what you know is right, instead of what everyone expects of you, or what will be easiest. It may mean fighting for a marriage that seems like a losing battle, or standing up to your boss when you know he’s doing something that isn’t right. Earlier in the day, for me it meant dealing with areas where I was holding offences against others, and asking them to forgive me. Especially if you want to live for what is right — you are consistently going to meet obstacles.

These opportunities are defining moments in our lives.

The moments when we choose the path of most resistance, because it’s the right path, are the moments when our true character is revealed, the moments when it’s clear what we’re really made of.

I pressed out onto the jetty, all the way to the end, where I could give the fishermen a good afternoon and a wave, then turned around and started heading back. Although my character may not have vastly improved by that simple decision, I knew that choosing the path of most resistance would make me a little stronger for the next run, and perhaps even able to stand when the real gale force winds blew through our little housing complex in Gordon’s Bay.

If you are swimming for greatness in the race of your life, don’t be afraid when you’re met with resistance. Resistance is a part of the process — often a place where the very hand of God is writing your story, training you so that you’ll be prepared for what He knows is further down the road that you don’t see yet. Sometimes you’ll have the opportunity to choose to face that resistance head on, or back down and choose a different route.

May these words encourage you today: Don’t be afraid to press on when you meet resistance. You may be on the precipice of a defining moment in the race of your life. The results of swimming your own race, even when it’s a tough one to swim, will be nothing short of glorious.