Preparation Meets Opportunity.

A couple of weeks ago, I had the opportunity to race a half-ironman in Augusta, Ga. I loved every minute of it. Yes, it was the hardest thing I have ever done. And yes, when I finished I cursed the ground for keeping me in motion for 6 hours.

But it was awesome. Every part of it was worth it.

I had to check my bike in the night before because there was so many people in the race. So, we got to the race site and just walked around for a bit. 3,500 bikes in the transition. The rack I put my bike on was right next to the one which read, “pro men.” Really? I’m going to be out there with the best of the best? Yep.

I walked down to the swim exit and saw a line of yellow buoys literally as far as I could see. Seriously, standing at the exit, I couldn’t even see the start line. It was awesome.

Had christmas come early? Or was this better then christmas? It was close…

Cars all over town had 70.3, 13.1, 26.2, and 140.6 stickers (I hope to add the last two in the near future). The Ironman logo tattoo was everywhere. It was like the whole city was waiting in anticipation for racers all over the country to burn holes in the pavement. You could smell the excitement.

Race morning came. I went to transition and spent some time with bike just to make sure it was ready to go. I grabbed my swim gear and hopped the bus to the start. I put my cap on and walked out on the dock. The cannon went off and I jumped in. The water felt good. I got kicked in the face. I pushed someone out of my way and started swimming to the end I couldn’t see. And I smiled the whole way.

I realized something as I was racing, my mind was right. I was enjoying every mile. Never once had I been nervous. All because I was prepared. I knew in my heart I had done everything I could do. I knew in my heart that after training in the Rockies (above 6,500ft in elevation) for three months had made me strong. I knew I was in the best shape of my life.

And so I raced with joy in my heart and a smile on face. Now, imagine if I knew I wasn’t prepared. 70.3 miles would have seen an impossible mountain to climb. I probably would have been so nervous I’d have lost my breakfast and race would have been a very different experience.

Here’s the reality, triathlon is absolutely a race against yourself. I’ll never be a pro, so I’m not really racing anyone but me. Being unprepared would really only affect one person: me.

But in my world of student ministry, being unprepared can be a disaster. Every Sunday is an opportunity to lead a student into a growing relationship with Jesus. What if it’s their first time? What if they decided they were going to try church one last time? Where would my lack of preparation leave them? What about my small group leaders who are giving so much to pour into the lives of students? What’s at stake if my preparation is poor on a Sunday morning? A lot.

Every Sunday is the Super Bowl. I need to act like it.

Are you preparing well? Do you have good systems in place? Do you have people in your life challenging you to get better?

Here is what I’m learning: When incredible opportunity is met with passionate preparation the results can be astounding.