Sheer Determination – Or Be Still? By Jo Russell

Could Arthur Itis stop me? NEVER! Not with my determination and vision!

When a winter, indoor tri-athalon was advertised at the local gym, the event advertised such short distances, I signed on the line. It would be easier than sprinting across the local Wal-Mart.  Once again, to enjoy the camaraderie of amateur athletes! The cheering! The fun! The challenge! New friends!
Though my last race had been a century ago or so, I remembered how much I had loved participating in amateur athletic events. Around middle age when many other women stopped competing, I had started racing. More than anything, I had always raced to prove arthritis could not stop me.

Doctors disagree. Over time, the disease causes a gradual thinning of the cartilage or padding in the joints.

“I will set a new record in the knee replacement class! People will have hope again!” I had not known at the time I would be setting a record, all right. But the speed of sea turtles is not legendary in athletic competitions.

While I tore it up during the swim, I earned a smile from the trainer. While I cranked and spun the pedals of the ancient recumbent bike, I realized at 68 rpms, I had only gone one-and-a-half miles in twenty minutes. Obviously, the machine needed repair. On the road or on any other machines, I was four times faster.

Sheer determination kicked in. My knees, including the metal one, began to complain, burn, incinerate, and turn to baked, shapeless ABC gum. “Be still and know I am God,” I heard softly in my mind, but instead, the pain and the sweat staining my color-coordinated outfit had my full attention.

An hour later, I teetered off the bike with numb legs. Stumbling to the treadmill for the final event, I looked around for my fellow athletes. None. Only a forest of empty machines told the story. So much for camaraderie.    The cheering? The trainer muffled a yawn. She headed downstairs to catch a bite while I continued in “record-breaking” time—the speed of a sea turtle enjoying a leisurely trip around the Galapagos Islands. Bound by my own promise to finish, I stuck it out to the end.

Arthritis: I now admit it stands between me and sprint triathlons. I had been denying it as well as grieving over my limitations.

Apostle Paul describes “There was given me a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me” and three times asked God to take it away from him. [2 Corinthians 12:7-10] NIV. God’s answer in verse 9: “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Paul concludes, “For when I am weak, then I am strong.”

I had not considered what a gift is it than when lack of skills, failure, or any physical affliction takes over, God fills in the weak areas with his power and strength!. Instead of grieving over the lost cartilage, I had to move forward in a journey down an unfamiliar road. I will grow with God’s help. I may falter, but he is there with his power and strength.

“Be still and know that I am God” from Psalm 46:10 is timeless. What assurance! God had walked with us in the past. He accompanies us on the adventurous route ahead.

Have courage! For his presence, power and strength are with us.

[Jo Russell is a Christian teacher, speaker, author of many articles, contributor to several anthologies, and Which Button Do You Push to Get God to Come Out? A Humorous Devotional for Women, Intermedia Publishing, 2011. For more chuckles, keep checking  her weekly blog on Button-to-God.com.]

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