Sports Spectrum Weekly

Daily Devotional: Friday, July 15 - The Will To Train

“For physical training is of some value, but godliness has value for all things, holding promise for both the present life and the life to come.” — 1 Timothy 4:8

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Until the women’s 100-meter breaststroke final at the Tokyo Olympics, not many people had heard of a young high school swimmer named Lydia Jacoby. Raised in Seward, Alaska, and with only a limited amount of international competitive experience, she had surprisingly earned a spot on the Olympic team, but was not expected to win a medal in any of her races. Going into that 100m final, American and reigning gold medalist Lily King was the favorite, and it appeared for most of the race like King would defend her gold medal from 2016. But suddenly, with about 25 meters to go, Jacoby came from behind and passed King and South African Tatjana Schoenmaker, touching the wall first to capture an unlikely gold.

But even more unlikely was the path Jacoby took to get there. In the entire state of Alaska, there is only one 50-meter pool available, and it was 2 hours and 30 minutes from where she lived. She couldn’t always make it there and had to settle for a 25-meter pool at her local high school. In addition, like most other athletes, her training had been disrupted by the COVID-19 shutdown in 2020, and even the high school pool was unavailable for awhile.

Jacoby’s only option? Resurrection Bay — the large body of water next to which her hometown of Seward is built. While certainly not ideal, her will to train outweighed any discomfort or inconvenience it might cost. So she donned a wetsuit, had her father drive the family boat out of the harbor and deep into the bay and in she dove. For weeks, this was her routine. While other swimmers settled for limited pool access, Jacoby was out with the otters and fish, just so she could give herself a chance to succeed. She showed the heart of a champion long before she ever set foot in that Olympic pool. She was willing to do the hard things.

Sometimes, when situations aren’t ideal, you have to use what you’ve got. You have to be creative, and your will to train needs to be greater than your desire for comfort. This is true in sports on a physical level, but especially true of your walk with God. There will be times when access to church or certain external motivations is limited and you have to take ownership for your own spiritual growth.

Is your desire for Godliness and maturity in the faith enough to drive you to put in the work when others won’t? Are you willing to invest in the process even to your own discomfort so that you are prepared for the greater reward of what God wants to do in and through your life?

There will be times when faith isn’t easy or convenient or comfortable. Are you still going to commit to the process of spiritual discipline and growth? How you answer that question will determine everything.

– Katherine Singer

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