Recently, I spent the afternoon working on a project that was completely unrelated to my life as a professional swimmer. At the conclusion of the day, I came home, satisfied with how the work had gone. As I rehashed the days’ events in my mind, I was overwhelmed with how passionately I had tackled this new project. If my older brother was the catalyst for the beginning of my swimming career, I had no parallel to draw to this new endeavor. Seemingly, no mentor or external seed had been planted to help push me into striking out in this new undertaking. I really could not pin point any reason for feeling so passionate towards a brand new pursuit. Yet the satisfaction I felt from the new work, although in its infancy, was the same sense of accomplishment I feel at the end of a great race or great workout.
Surprised that the new project had conjured up a passionate sense of drive I usually get from competing as an athlete, I asked myself a deeper question.
If I can enjoy the same passionate drive in two forms of work that are totally unrelated, where does the root of this passion come from?
What is the purpose of my swimming if I can find the same passion in different areas of my life?
Though I know the answers to the stated questions, it was the first time I had thought about my gift from God in this particular way. I have always been thankful for the way He has blessed me with my swimming ability. My passion as a swimmer comes from placing my purpose in Him. No doubt that if my trust is in Him, and he provides me with the gift of swimming, then the purpose of my gift is to deflect any glory derived from swimming straight to Him!
Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving. Colossians 3:23-24
Acknowledging that He is the root of my swimming passion poses two seemingly incongruent thoughts. On one hand, I am totally aware of the insignificance of this temporary pursuit of swimming. Whether or not I win a medal or break a record is utterly unimportant. This should be a somewhat deflating discovery, right? However, I place my purpose in Him—and not in the swimming itself, receiving from Him a passion for the sport I could not otherwise enjoy. Acknowledging the relative insignificance of swimming is really a burden lifted off me, allowing me to appreciate my swimming gift to the fullest. With this understanding I am able to achieve at my highest personal level! Because the sport itself is not the root of my purpose, I am not subject to the roller coaster of emotions that tend to come with an obsession over one’s personal career advances. I cannot hang my hat on nor allow myself to be defined by that which was merely a gift in the first place. A gift can be taken back. I could lose swimming tomorrow. How many more days do I get to enjoy my life as a professional athlete? Who knows! Indeed, it is because of this acknowledgement of uncertainty that I am able to approach my work as a swimmer with a renewed since of passion daily—and attack it with a reckless abandon! The passion is visible between the lane lines because the purpose resides in something greater and unseen.
So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal. 2 Corinthians 4:18