Monday, September 27 2021 - 4:46 AM
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An Ironman’s Prayer

As I swam through the semi-transparent lake water, I could see below me the faint shadow of a submerged scuba diver. I waved at the diver, who waved back and gave me a “thumbs up.” I had now been swimming just over 45 minutes and was starting the second lap of a 2.4-mile swim in the Coeur d’Alene Ironman triathlon. Following the swim, I would quickly transition to a 112-mile bike ride.

Finally, I would attempt to complete the 26.2-mile marathon before midnight or face disqualification. The previous year, during my first attempt at completing the Ironman, I fell short. I missed the bike course cutoff time by just three minutes. This year, I was determined to cross the Ironman finish line.

Triathlon had recently become new and exciting fitness activity in my life. I had read everything I could get my hands on about the training, purchased all the gear, and taken all the coaching lessons. I had carefully followed my detailed training plan. Little did I realize that long and hard training for the Ironman would prepare me for an even greater personal challenge lying ahead.

Together We Could Do It

As I kept stretching forward into the water with each stroke, I repeated a Bible verse that reminded me that this was not just my race but that I had a Partner with real power and strength. “I can do everything through Christ who gives me strength” (Romans 4:13). Through the weeks and months of constant training for the race, I had repeated this verse. I believed that together we could do it.

After 11 PM, I heard the PA system shout my name as I crossed the Ironman finish line. I was fatigued but totally elated. My dream had come true. Waiting family and friends eagerly hugged me at the finish area. A race volunteer hung the Ironman medal around my neck. I felt like a hero. I had finished, but I wasn’t done.

A Diagnosis

Two summers later, I learned that my PSA (prostate specific antigen) score was high, too high. I was referred to a local urologist for a more specific diagnosis. Following a prostate biopsy, the diagnosis was unmistakable: I had an aggressive form of prostate cancer, and I needed to act on it soon. My wife and I sat in stunned silence.

In the midst of my muddled thoughts, Bible texts began running through my mind, including, “I can do all things through Christ….” What now?

There were so many treatment options, and there could be side effects. Again, I silently cried out to God in prayer for wisdom and guidance as I pursued the right option for me. Because I had committed my Ironman challenge to prayer, I knew exactly what to do – pray through it.

Through these challenges and others, Philippians 4:13 has strengthened me through months of endurance training, as well as facing cancer and weeks of proton treatment. Together with many of God’s other promises in the Scriptures, I knew He would be with me through all things and at all times. I had gone from Ironman to Protonman only because I had whole-heartedly put my trust in God and His strength.

To God be the glory!

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Phil Muthersbaugh writes from the Pacific Northwest.

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