It Takes a Village

"Energize the limp hands, strengthen the rubbery knees. Tell fearful souls, "Courage! Take heart!" Isaiah 35:3-4 The Message

It's very quiet here in our Coeur d'Alene rental house. The anticipation is palpable, and even though its a cool 66 outside and the indoor air conditioner is blowing, I'm sweating.

I'm also praying.

I'm praying my 28-year old son who is across the hall behind a closed door is asleep. In too few hours, he will be awake, and in for a very very long long day. At some point before midnight Pacific Standard Time (2:00 am Central Standard Time) his name will be announced as he crosses the finish line, "Alec Johns, you are an IRONMAN."

It has been a tremendous blessing to be part of his "team." I've utilized a good portion of the qualities I don't get a paycheck for (my creativity, culinary, and organizational skills). I have felt great pride in seeing the determination and dedication to compete and complete the goal my son has his mind set on. I have been humbled by the Facebook posts from around the world sent to encourage him.

We drove the race course and I started praying harder and posting more! An Ironman event consists of the following (note these are Pacific Standard Times):

7:00 am - SWIM 2.4 miles
Approximately 1.5 hours (by his estimate)

9:00 am BIKE 112 miles
Approximately 6 hours

3:45 pm RUN 26.2 miles
Approximately he wouldn't say but he hopes for 5.5 hours

The entire town of Coeur d'Alene takes part in some way or another. The local news this morning was encouraging people to get out and cheer the athletes. One of my son's friends told him if he finishes before the midnight cutoff (athletes are then listed as DNF - Did Not Finish), to return to cheer the last people struggling to cross the line.

The verse quoted from Isaiah was sent to me this morning from a precious missionary friend of mine. She is in the US undergoing cancer treatment. She reports she is winning her battle. Unfortunately, her mother is not. She wrote, she read the passage to her mom and she was encouraged. It encouraged me as well.

For I know this one thing with all certainty, her mother has fought the good fight of faith, finishing the race - she will not be a DNF. Whenever she crosses "that" finish line it will be into the loving arms of her Savior. Her great cloud of witnesses will be holding up far more than posters with "congratulations."

But that realization also made me sad. I wondered out of all the 2800 extraordinarily dedicated athletes how many will make it to THE REAL finish line into the welcoming arms of a loving God. The One who, "for the glory set before Him, endured..."
And as astounding of a human feat it is to compete and complete an Ironman Triathalon race, it was more than amazing that the KING CREATOR would put HIS BODY through that physical torture (and death) for us; so we would NOT be disqualified, we would never have to worry about penalties and injuries that would keep us from finishing.

I remarked earlier about how complete strangers appreciate the encouragement. I know complete strangers will approach YOU one day on the other side of YOUR "finish line" and thank you for sharing the Word, your testimony, sending a missionary, feeding the poor, helping in the thousand ways you don't think anybody knows or cares about. It matters.

"This service you perform is not only supplying the needs of the Lord's people but it is also overflowing in many expressions of thanks to God... And in their prayers for you their hearts will go out to you, because of the surpassing grace God has given you." 2 Corinthians 9:12-14

One of the strangest rules about the Ironman competition is they do not allow what they deem "outside" help. No music, no hand-offs (food or water) from friends; no touching or running alongside an athlete. My son explained, "They want to break you. It all has to be ALL you."

Tomorrow it might look to the officials like my son is out there all alone, with no motivating music, no special food from his mama, and no running laps with his little brother. But we know "faith is the belief in things HOPED FOR, AS YET UNSEEN." And that, my village people, makes us all IRONMEN!

"They'll sing as they make their way home to Zion, unfading joy encircling their heads, welcomed home with gifts of joy and gladness as all sorrow and sighs scurry into the night." Isaiah 35:10 The Message

Knowing the mountains he will ride are moving!
Smiling in His service

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