I’ve watched all kinds of athletic events—from peewees to professionals. But I had never watched a triathlon, until my daughter entered her first one. She trained for it in the same way she’s tackled any of life’s challenges: with head-on determination.
As I watched her and several hundred others jump into a chilly lake for a half-mile swim, I decided it wasn’t too late to pray. From the lake—to her bike—to the final 3.4-mile run, it was two hours, fourteen minutes my daughter will never forget—a test unlike any other she’d ever faced.
From my vantage point I could observe the competitors. I admired a handicapped middle-aged man limp from the lake to his bike. For him, time wasn’t as important as effort. Then I watched a woman finish her swim over an hour behind everyone else. A raucous applause greeted her as she mounted her bike to continue on, even though the other athletes were on the last leg of the race. I saw the fit, trim and trained, and those who were trying to become that way. The triathlon tested each entrant, but ego hadn’t entered the race.
The hours of training and preparation finally became tired smiles as they heard loud cheering and their name announced as they crossed the finish line. As I waited for my daughter to emerge through the wooded path that would bring her to the same finish line, I remembered Anna. She’d been a gifted athlete—and loved to run.
Just when Anna was living with all the potential of her twenties, she got Multiple Sclerosis. No longer could she train for marathons. Now her fitness plan included family time, chats with friends, and after work, volunteering at a teen center. She invested her strength and energy wisely and when the MS pulled ahead of her, she turned toward a different finish line—her faith. When I see Anna, I don’t see a wheelchair-bound woman, I see a smiling face and a heart of love. God may have changed her race, but her overflowing faith extended farther than a marathon ever took her.
My daughter’s sky blue shirt now came into view. I’ll never forget her smile as she ran those final steps to the finish line. I cheered with all of the rest as she crossed over. I thought about the finish lines still ahead of her—family, career, and even faith has its own finish line. Life is like that. Throughout life we may change races, but it depends on us to have focused training and running with the passion to reach the finish line. And the triathlon was the reminder I needed to keep on training—I’ve got some finish lines still ahead.