Kemper’s been working hard this summer to get her foot hold in the triathlon world. She’s been training with a team on the west coast of Florida, traveling with an incredible family across the country to different races, and doing very well on her circuit.
Kemps is a great athlete. She makes my heart smile so big at times I can literally feel it.
A few weeks ago I flew out to Seattle on a whim to watch her in her first big international draft legal triathlon.
Watching her line up for the swim start, I may have actually been more nervous than she was. I had every confidence in her ability, but I knew how badly she wanted to do well, and I worried that a less-than-stellar showing would shake her up.
I had nothing to worry about.
But I learned something incredibly valuable through her time on the bike and I wanted to share it with all of you.
Swimming, Kemps has down. And she is a natural runner. But biking is something she needs a little bit more experience in. Knowing that the bike would be her tough spot, as she transitioned onto the bike portion, she struggled to get in a pack. The lead pack took off, leaving her in no man’s land, struggling to get in a groove.
Then came the second pack.
“They are right behind you!” I hollered, trying to encourage her to pick it up if she could so that she could cling on to their wheels.
Confused, she looked at me and kept struggling and then Whoosh! Here came the pack. She clambered onto the back of it and hung on for dear life.
I mean she was all hair, teeth and eyeballs coming around each corner and just using every bit of strength she had to keep up with that pack of faster and more experienced riders.
It was honestly one of the most beautiful things I have ever beheld.
She shouldn’t have been able to hang on.
She could have easily given up.
She had every excuse to believe as she hadn’t trained, didn’t have the experience, and lacked leg power.
But she hung on and eventually got in a groove.
She couldn’t get to the front of the pack to take a pull, and some of the competitors were getting ticked.
“Get up here Reback! Take a %^&$*! pull!” a few of the girls were griping as she gasped for air and hung on for dear life. The grimace on her face made me smile and cry simultaneously.
She got off the bike to transition into running…slipping and seriously scraping herself up pretty badly. She ran down as many girls as she could and finished 10th American, 13th overall.
I was beyond proud.
But the lesson in life hit me squarely between the eyes as I stared at a verse this week from Romans 12.
“Let love be without hypocrisy. Abhor what is evil; cling to what is good. 10 Be devoted to one another in brotherly love; [j]give preference to one another in honor; 11 not lagging behind in diligence, fervent in spirit, serving the Lord; 12 rejoicing in hope, persevering in tribulation, devoted to prayer…”
I’ve been through some crap in the last few years. And at times, it has been more than a bit challenging to cling to my faith. Heartbrokenness has made my diligence challenging, I have definitely struggled to rejoice in hope…and being devoted to prayer was tough since I was pretty darn angry with God.
Persevering is about all I could do.
But watching Kemper hold fast against all the odds, watching her dig deep and cling to the back of that pack of bikers, holding on with all she had inspired me. I realized that though my heart may break, I CAN rejoice in the HOPE and solid knowledge that the Lord has everything under control. He is sovereign even as I struggle. I can be fervent in spirit and I can be devoted to prayer and trust the same Jesus that has brought me through every trial and snare thus far. I can believe that He will complete that good work He began in me, in my marriage, and in my family…no matter how the varying situations may currently look.
Even if sometimes I just have to sit in the back of the pack and suck on someone else’s wheel as I draft through the wind and storms of life. I can still cling, and must still cling to the faith, hope, and love that Jesus has granted me.
I pray that you are encouraged to be joyful in hope, patient in tribulation, and faithful in prayer today as you face your own struggles and challenges!
Over the years I have gotten plenty of heartbreaking letters from parents struggling through challenges with their children, teens, and young adults. The crap-spray of sin (that is truthfully the NICEST way I can say it!) and hurt and fear and anger threatening to pull their very lives apart.
Hold fast, my friends. Hang on tight to the truth you KNOW in your head to be true even if your heart is shaken and shattered. Hang on hair, teeth and eyeballs like Kempies did in that race and wait to see what the Lord will bring through the suffering and tribulations. He promises not to waste a single tear or hurt.