The last 24 hours has been pretty eventful and God has been reminding me of some old lessons and teaching me some new ones!  Last night I had the honor of attending the Inspire Gala here in Fresno presented by Break the Barriers and Fresno Christian Schools.  The event featured performances by the students of BTB as well as key note speaker Tim Tebow.  Throughout the night God used the words Tim spoke to remind me why I started pole vaulting in the first place: to build a platform to impact the world for Christ. I remember having the conversation with my coach the day after he talked to me about what it would look like to train again.  I remembered back to the lessons God had been teaching me the previous three years about my life, my pride, and my selfishness. For years I defined myself by athletics, and in that my performance determined my worth.  I remember questioning whether it was selfishness or God that would want me to start pole vaulting… No way did I want to do anything that would move me away from my relationship with God, but if there was a way to merge my love of sport and the passion of helping people find worth outside themselves and what they do, then I thought… I’M IN!

Well many things were talked about during the gala, but one of special significance was the concept of “finish strong”.  I had heard it before, but I think it was time for a fresh reminder on what is means to finish out the task at hand… Not just finish, but finish STRONG.  Getting to the point where you give every ounce you have in you to reach the goal.  To finish strong in every aspect of training, so that when the battle comes you know you are ready.  And in His usual fashion, God really decided to drive home the point today at my meet in San Jose (He seems to find is necessary for me to “learn-by-doing”).

Coming into the competition I was having trouble really focusing and getting amped up.  My mind and body were a little sluggish.  But nevertheless I came to compete, but it wasn’t until three jumps in I remembered that I came to win.  By the time the bar went up to 4.07 there was only myself and one other competitor.  Having both failed all three attempts, and realizing that we were tied, standard procedure called for a jump off to determine the winner.  We each received one more attempt at 4.07, where once again we both missed.  At this point, the bar went down to 3.92. Diamara jumps first and it’s a make.  I follow her up landing myself a clearance as well.  Now it gets fun…

The bar goes back up to 4.07.
We both miss.
Bar goes down to 4.02.
We miss.

Bar at 3.97… D booms it and I know I have to clear it. My legs were fatiguing, but there’s no excuses when you want to win. And with determination I clear! Bar goes back up to 4.02.  At this point I know that I don’t have much left in me; this is now the 5th round of the jump-off. Diamara goes up, and the bar falls. It’s now or never. Don’t back down, make this bar, vault tough, finish strong is what I am telling myself, finish strong! Powering down the runway, I take it up and clear the bar!  I’m fist pumping as I land because I know it’s done and I finished strong!

I know it’s just a silly little event, and in the long run no one cares if I won the San Jose Invite, but God used this moment to solidify in my heart and in my mind the importance of finishing strong! And what I want to ask you is, what is it right now in your life that God is asking you to finish strong? Do you feel fatigued physically, emotionally, mentally? Are you losing faith or hope that the areas God has called you in might be to tough… You know that God doesn’t give us anything we can’t handle without Him. It’s the times we try to do it without Him that we fail. God is asking you to finish strong. Not with things that are passing, but with things that have eternal significance. He wants you to fight the good fight and finish the race. He’s asking me to train with all that is in me, to compete with all that is in me, to love with all that is in me; to speak with boldness, to live with conviction, and encourage others to SOAR… What is it in you; what are the areas of life that God is saying to you…. FINISH STRONG!

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