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Phil Bryant | Why do you race?

Phil Bryant of Huntsville, Al wrote an incredible testimony to the question, Why Do You Race? If you've got a similar story, leave it in the comments section.

I am overwhelmed by God's grace. When an injury partially paralyzed my leg a few years ago, I was told by several doctors that I would never run again. But the Lord healed my leg and my walk is forever changed.

Recently, He gave me the gift of finishing a half Ironman distance triathlon. To add to the difficulty of the race itself, during the race I was fighting a sinus infection that left me feeling weak and just that morning it had begun to make me cough. As I was swimming upstream I had to keep stopping to cough. And every time I stopped, the current carried me away from the finish.

The night before the race, I attended a service where a professional triathlete spoke about his early race experiences and how he was terrified during the swim. As I swam, I kept thinking about the point that was made: God gets us through difficult times but we still have to get in the water and swim. While swimming I repeatedly asked, several times aloud, for the Lord to help me through. And I kept swimming.

GPS for the 1.2 mile swim course showed 1.5. For the 56 mile bike course, it showed 58. Right or wrong, circumstances were telling me that things were harder than they should have been. Discouragements added up. While running, I was worried about finishing within the time limit allowed. Previously, when I crossed the finish line at another half Ironman, the time limit had expired. Despite my best effort, the official results marked me "DNF". For seven years, I have felt an asterisk beside my name with a bold-type footnote reading "Did Not Finish!"

In God's providence, another professional triathlete at the pre-race service shared his struggle against measuring self-worth by performance. As I raced, I constantly reminded myself that my worth is evidenced by what Jesus Christ paid for me on the cross. In light of this, it seems perfectly fitting to hear friends say that I was smiling every time they saw me during the race.

In this race, the Lord showed me that my role was simply to keep moving. Only as I moved did He meter out grace to get me through. He gave me grace upon grace by removing the satanic asterisk that I had placed upon myself. And He reminded me of my true worth.

Grace is not obliged by my desires, expectations, or performance. I will always struggle in this world and I may not finish every race. But every struggle reveals my need for the Lord. And His loving response strengthens my faith. He loves me enough to carry me through a race. Surely He loves me enough to carry me through life’s larger struggles. This is "the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen."

I worship while I train, I cry out to the Lord when I struggle, and He reveals Himself to me as I do. That is why I race.

21 comments (Add your own)

1. Amy T. wrote:
Great thoughts Phil! You are always such an encouragement to others partly because on the outside you are always Smiling:)

Sat, June 18, 2011 @ 2:07 PM

2. Dana wrote:
Great story!! Thank you!! It helped get me through today's workout, as I replayed it in my head, just as much as it did the other night!! :D

Sat, June 18, 2011 @ 5:10 PM

3. Scott Meyer wrote:
"Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing." I THESSALONIANS 5:18

God bless you, Phil! Many thanks for your story of encouragement which moves us to "run with patience the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus". Scott

Wed, June 22, 2011 @ 8:09 PM

4. Clay Collins wrote:
Thank you Phil, for your story. I also had a DNF at the Blue Angel Marathon. I figured that I could run it again later. The hurricane destroyed the base and at first they postponed it then they canceled it. I call them from time to time to see if they will have it again. I think the reason that I race is because the people that run sometimes struggle to finish, including me. I'm usually at the back and have meet some great people. I would like to get faster but I'm content just running.

Mon, June 27, 2011 @ 12:52 AM

5. Dawnita M. wrote:
Phil, thanks for the encouragement. "I worship when I train, I cry out to the Lord when I struggle, and He reveals himself to me when I do. That is why I race." ~ just became my quote to live by.

Wed, July 20, 2011 @ 8:36 AM

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