My favorite events during the Summer Olympics involve water. I grew up swimming, so I have great respect for swimmers who make it to the highest level of pool competitions, but I also admire those participating in open water events. 

Marathon swimming became an Olympic sport in 2008. Brazilian marathon swimmer, Poliana Okimoto, will be competing in her third Games after debuting at Beijing in 2008. She’ll compete in the open water of the Atlantic Ocean, which involves unique tactics and race strategies.

Okimoto describes the differences between open water and pool events: “Every race is different. You have to be right mentally. The water is often very cold – about 16 or 17 degrees – and it can be very windy. A lot of the time you get kicked and elbowed and people pull your legs. You have to be mentally ready to let those things slide and just focus on your race.”

This is an incredible feat when considering the long distances they swim in such treacherous conditions. I especially admire Okimoto’s perspective of being “mentally ready to let those things slide and just focus on your race.” As followers of Jesus, we get kicked, elbowed, and pulled back at times, but we have to stay focused and keep persevering.

When we get taken off course and our circumstances get rough or sin slows us down, the Bible provides encouragement in Hebrews 12:1-2 (NLT):

“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us. We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith. Because of the joy awaiting Him, He endured the cross, disregarding its shame. Now He is seated in the place of honor beside God’s throne…”

Marathon swimmers must focus on their race and let things slide instead of slow them down. As we experience our own race each day, let’s keep our eyes on Jesus as He helps us overcome every weight that slows us down…and gives us strength to let things slide on by. I’m Bryce Johnson and you can unpack that!

PRAYER: Heavenly Father, thank you for the race You have set before me. I pray that You would give me the strength to endure when life gets challenging. Please help me to stay focused with my eyes fixed on Jesus, and let go of every weight that slows me down. In His name I pray, Amen.