My goal has always been to win an Olympic gold medal. When I was eight years old, I began my Olympic quest by going every evening after school to swim endless laps in a cold, murky 25-yard pool. Then one day during practice as my father watched me swim, my coach walked over to him and said, he'll never be a fast swimmer. My father later told me about this, and I was determined to prove my coach wrong. I set out to beat everyone - every practice, every set, every race.
The hard work paid off. By the age of twelve I was setting pool records and winning virtually every competition I entered. I continued my winning streak into high school, where I won our conference championship and received AllCounty, AllLeague, and AllSection honors, and then into college, where I received twelve AllAmerican honors for my performances in the NCAA Championships, as well as Team Most Valuable Player. After graduating from Johns Hopkins University in 1993, I decided to channel my swimming energies into the sport of triathlon. By my second year in the sport, I qualified for a spot on the US National Team to compete at the 1994 World Triathlon Championship in Wellington, New Zealand. At this event, I placed seventh in the world and recorded a time for the 10-K run that was five seconds faster than that year's World Champion.
My Search for Happiness
At a very young age I asked Jesus into my heart, and for years attended church regularly and tried to be a good person. But I basically lived my life without really knowing God and what He expected of me. I allowed my intuition, my ambitions and my desires to direct me through life. It was not until age 24, after having achieved many of life's goals that I thought would bring me happiness - a good job on Wall Street, a diploma from one of the country's best universities, twelve AllAmerican swimming honors, and now rising success in the sport of triathlon - that I realized how empty I was. No level of success or recognition could satisfy this feeling of emptiness. Winning brought only temporary happiness, and when I lost, I was miserable. Whoever loves money never has money enough, whoever loves wealth is never satisfied with his income. (Ecclesiastes 5:10)
My New Life in Christ
My decision to recommit my life to the Lord brought tremendous happiness, strength and fulfillment. Now, I have true lasting happiness that can only be found in a personal relationship with God through His son Jesus. I am provided with constant strength from the one who created me in His image, who knows me better than I know myself, and who loves me more than I can possibly imagine. And I have fulfillment in knowing that the purpose for which I was created was to use the talents and abilities that He has given me for His glory. Each workout or competition is another exciting opportunity to experience Him at work in my life and to share Him with others. Let him who boasts boast in the Lord. (1 Corinthians 1:31)
My Source of Strength
This does not mean that my life is free of challenges. For example, less than a week after placing first in my age division and second overall at the 1997 US National Triathlon Championship, I was involved in a biking accident and broke my right arm. Throughout this ordeal, however, God helped me to realize a new source of strength in Him. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well-fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do everything through Him who gives me strength. (Philippians 4:11) He also helped me to realize the meaning behind my injury, that it was being used by God to develop and strengthen my character to be like that of His Son Jesus. Consider it pure joy whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. (James 1:2) God gave me strength to endure the pain and setback of injury and to make a comeback less than three months later at the 1997 World Triathlon Championship in Perth, Australia, where I posted the fastest time among all Americans in my age division, and ninth overall.
By accepting Christ, you too can experience happiness, strength and fulfillment through Him. Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not be weary, they will walk and not be faint. (Isaiah 40:30-31)
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