Thursday, February 05, 2015

The Phelps Factor

I swim everyday, sometimes multiple times. This is about one of my pool workouts. It's from January 22, 2011.

I'm in my third week of membership at Chancellor's Family Center. My membership is only for three months but I can see extending it to a year when the time comes. My previous fitness club closed late in the summer so I had been looking at other workout options. My regimen consists of two parts; lifting weights for an hour every other day and swimming/running in the indoor pool for between twenty-four and thirty minutes every day. It had been since my June trip to China that I had lifted and since the beginning of November that I had been in the water, when the outdoor pool at my apartment complex simply got too cold. In the pool, I combine running and swimming. The water in the Chancellor's indoor pool is six feet deep so it's a great running workout, forcing myself to expend considerable energy just to keep my head above water. When I touch the end of the pool, I turn and swim half the length of the pool and repeat the process. It is terrific exercise; running in water has built-in resistance and swimming has been called the perfect workout. At this point, I need to interject that I am an average-at-best swimmer and that is stretching the definition of average. I taught myself how to swim and I was not a good teacher. Still, I enjoy my time in the water, even more than the hour I spend pushing the weights around.

On Thursday, there were several others in the pool when I got in after school. Because several high schools, including WCS, use Chancellor's for their swimming teams, the pool is divided by lane markers. I had just finished the running portion of a lap and was turning to swim when I noticed a young man about seven years old in the adjacent lane. He was swimming and had just done one of those flip turns where you go under water off the end to change directions. As we started out even, it hit me- I could beat him! I found myself racing this little kid who was not even aware of my existence. For twenty or so yards, I pushed my body to new limits and this might sound arrogant but I beat him by at least two lengths!! I was rather pleased with myself until it hit me how ridiculous the whole thing was and I found myself hoping the three or four adults on the pool deck did not realize what had happened. I make this promise: there will be no rematch.

How silly was that, to match skills with a child who was just minding his own business? There is something is us that demands a comparison to others, isn't there? We want to compete about meaningless things, even if nobody knows it but us. We do it with jobs or cars our clothes or relationships. We even do it with other believers who are on our side!
We talked in classes this week about how the Pharisees were very accomplished at praying, giving, and fasting but these most noble acts should be between ourselves and God. But sometimes, we use ourselves as a spiritual measuring stick, testing others' allegiance to the Lord. In 2 Corinthians 10, Paul warned against comparing ourselves even to ourselves. In Matthew 5:48, Jesus gives us the true measuring stick: "Be perfect, therefore, as your Heavenly Father is perfect." That perfection, or completeness, in our walk must come from walking with the Almighty. I have duly noted He made no mention of swimming against second graders. That won't get me a gold medal.

Applicable quote of the day:

"I loved the feeling of freedom in running, the fresh air, the feeling that the only person I'm competing with is me."
Wilma Rudolph

God bless,
Luke 18:1
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Clint said...

So good. I love reading your blog, especially because you are an honest guy and it is refreshing.

We of course should strive for the perfection of Christ. We aren't gonna get there, mind you, but we still need to try. And when we fail Him, as we will do daily, we can rest assured that His grace will rescue us if we will only pray, confess and repent. Great post, Steve.

Oh, and BTW---next year the 7 year old will be 8. Wanna try again?

Toyin O. said...

Amen, our perfection is only in Christ. Thanks for sharing.

Martha Miller said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Martha Miller said...

Great post! I think we can all learn from your candor and your spiritual insight. Thank you for sharing.