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The Battle of Pelican Lake

By Marsha Tallman

My heart rate escalated as I gazed at the battlefield ahead. Pelican Lake awaited the conquest as its white-capped waves peaked up to glance at the army of triathletes about to enter their domain. The wind ripped through my skintight armor: a wetsuit, swim cap, and goggles. The frigid air worked with the epinephrine in my blood to cause rigorous shakes. My enemies, hundreds of amateur athletes, surrounded me in an apprehensive stillness that was suddenly shattered by the blast of the starting buzzer.

We dashed for the lake, diving into the water. My breath froze mid-inhalation as the cold penetrated the exposed skin on my neck, face and hands. Gasping, I arched my neck forward to see the multitude of swimmers ahead. Every other stroke I forced my face into the rancid moss and algae that infiltrated the lake. Each exhalation forcefully expelled their foul taste from my mouth.

An elbow struck my side, a swimmer in front grazed my head with his foot, and yet another attacked from behind as his arms beat my calves. My breathing became even more irregular as I struggled to find a rhythm. Opponents bordered me on every side. Swimmer to swimmer combat laced the lake as the chain of triathletes gained momentum. How I missed the serene solitary swims I had enjoyed only a week ago. How could I find that kind of peace in this war of crazed athletes?

I have never fought in a real war, but when Christ returns as the rider on that white horse, I hope to be in the army riding behind Him. I imagine foes will assail from every side, but my Lord who rides ahead of me will have already bested them. The prophet Micah tells us,

"One who breaks open the way will go before them; they will break through the gate and go out. The king will pass before them, the Lord at their head." - Micah 2:13 (NIV)

What delight will it be to ride through that battle, knowing it has already been won! I will ride, not with panic and a struggle for breath, but with peace.

"Lord," I prayed as another challenger swam over me, "This battle, too, is yours. Make my path clear."

As we swam farther from the shore, the throng of triathletes began to spread out. The elbows and feet of the surrounding swimmers tired from their early efforts. Their erratic splashing faded; I heard only the regular rhythm of my own arms gently entering the water. My breathing slowed, and my stroke found that familiar pattern learned from countless laps in the training pool. Then ahead, I saw the goal: a lone buoy that led the way to the comfort of the shore.

Our daily battles do not usually involve mounted cavalry or overly competitive amateur athletes; they do, however come on every side. As financial decisions, family disagreements, and persecution appear to block the course, we must remember that we are not the leaders in this war. Christ goes ahead of us, and He has already won. With that in mind, the path clears. The enemies we see along the way have been defeated. Instead of ducking to avoid their sting, we can ride forth confidently and proclaim God’s goodness in the heat of the battle.

Copyright Marsha Tallman


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