Yesterday was a very exciting day in my calendar, one that had provided focus for the last nine months. Coeur d’Alene Idaho Ironman 2013. It was the culmination of many hours of training, discipline, focus and anticipation. It was the day to determine whether I could stretch myself further physically than I ever have done before. Would I have what it takes, I always wondered - and so I wanted to experience the sheer mental and physical exhaustion that comes from doing an Ironman, which is 2.4miles of swimming, 112miles of cycling, and then 26miles of running.
But it was not to be.
I took the decision to pull out about two weeks ago. My health still isn’t great, and I was in no shape to give it a go. I desperately wanted to, but that would risk this 3-month period of fatigue lasting even longer. I thought I’d been fully healed when I managed to do the tour du Burundi, but the fatigue came back a few days later. Aaargh!
I’d lost much objectivity in terms of making the right decision, so it the end it came out of listening, begrudgingly, to my wife and other key friends. One of my closest buddies wrote the following, which I thought was worth my (and your) mulling over:
Fundamentally, I worry that we all have a tendency to want to develop hero status and somehow the church encourages this (in my case by getting over excited about politics, but there is a fallen desire all over the place for heroes). Yet, the heroes of my Bible are often either called by God to some massive task for the Kingdom (unlikely characters with obvious flaws like Moses, who weren’t driven by crowds cheering) or are very quiet about it, not particularly respected or even noticed by the world and without worldly status.
Heroes are also vulnerable to temptation (David) and such temptation can destroy their ministry and families (there are countless devastating contemporary examples of this).
Contemporary heroes, it appears to me, are more vulnerable to hero status (and all the pitfalls and temptations) by social media and associated personal marketing available (not something which worried Mother Theresa so much).
Apologies that I don’t have the whole context here, or if (as is bound to be the case) I am self-projecting, but I wholly applaud you in your decision and with the fitness you have gleaned from your training, I’d use it to run as far from any contemporary hero status or inclination to heroic acts as possible!
This whole thing challenges me greatly. I find myself asking myself questions like: what’s the Biblical ironman? What happens to him? Perhaps he plants churches in the least glamorous places possible? Evangelises on trains, buses, beaches, takes a kicking and comes back for more? Risks all his social status by praying for healing on the streets where he is known and respected as a businessman/good fun/regular guy? Maybe he challenges established church heresy and practices at the risk of his self being ostracised and his family being ridiculed and alienated? Gets beaten, shipwrecked, crucified?
I don’t know – I’m not one myself, and you’re much more one that I am Simon. So, maybe some fruit from this would be for us to challenge one another to ‘Biblical ironmanship’ and for me to try and shape up a bit with some harder-line spiritual training.
It’s real food for thought for me.
I still desperately want to do a physical ironman, but my friend’s challenge regarding Biblical ironmanship above is a much more important one to address. I confess right now I’m not shaping up too well.
How about you?