Way Beyond My Strength

Way Beyond My Strength

 “I can do all this through him who gives me strength.”  (Philippians 4:13)

The five volcanos that make up the Big Island of Hawaii create a challenging course for the mini-triathlon I do each year. My favorite part is the first and shortest segment of the race, a 1/3 mile ocean swim. Once out of the water, I race barefooted to my gear station to don socks, shoes, helmet and sunglasses, and off I go to tackle the longest segment of the race, the 15-mile bike ride. The biking is 7.5 miles out and back.

The first part of the ride is enjoyable with stunning ocean views. At mile six, the road turns in toward the mountain and begins the climb to 191 feet. I think about how hard this hill will be when I face it again on the way back. A devilish whisper suggests, “Turn back now. You don’t really need to finish the race.” I take back control of my thoughts, taking every thought captive. I didn’t train for two months to turn back now, and I push on.

I fly down the other side of the hill, my breaks squealing. I maintain a self – imposed 30 mph limit and say a prayer, “Lord keep me safe.” When I round the orange cone, marking the turnaround, I’ve made it halfway. Now begins the hardest part of the race.

It doesn’t matter how much training I’ve done to prepare, the hill coming back is brutal. I flash a half-hearted smile to the volunteer, keeping us safe. He’s cheering me on.   As I creep up the hill, one pedal revolution at a time, we have a small amount of time to talk.

“What are you listening to on your playlist?” He asks. “It’s “Amazing Love” by Hillsong.”  My voice rings out,

Amazing love, I know it’s true
And it’s my joy to honor you, in all I do
I honor you

I smile at the man, realizing God has provided this unique opportunity for me to share about Him. On my own, past the volunteer, straining to make my way up the hill, I am wracked with emotion. One minute I’m physically exhausted, thinking about giving up. Then the next minute, God is reminding me how much He loves me, and His love empowers me to finish the race.  Paul said it best “I can do all this through him who gives me strength.”  (Philippians 4:13). I celebrate the top of the hill and enjoy the
ride back.

On my return to my gear station, I guzzle down extra water and head out for the final 2-mile stretch. It seems an easy wog (walk and jog) compared to the bike ride. Somewhere on the final leg, tears stream down my face. “God, how on earth did you transform this once obese woman?”  His power truly is in me. No matter how hard, I can do anything in God’s strength, even the Tryptophan Triathlon.

Helen Baratta

Helen Baratta is Director of Development for First Place for Health, encourages everyone to embrace change and say “Yes” to all God has planned. She is the author of My Place for Leadership included in the My Place Leader’s Kit and Restored! Embracing Weight Loss God’s Way available at our online bookstore.

Race Photos by Dave Hodges

  1. May God continue to use you for his Glory!!
    Love the honest, simple way you write and put your point across, I was in the bike with you, and was emotionally happy listening to Hillsong. ?

    I am on a path toward perseverance and consistency on my life, in all the areas. Will start with God and training myself to become a morning person, I need it for work, for life. Will be an extremely interesting year, and I know many good things will come out of it!

    May God keep nurturing and blessing you!
    Love, Janet Carrasquillo-Davila @ Puerto Rico ??☦️??

  2. awesome!!!! Its amazing the strength God gives us when we push ourselves with everything we have.

  3. So fun meeting you on the bike ride for the past 2 years, and finishing with you last year! I never had a doubt that you wouldn’t finish! I am so pleased for you…
    love, Toni (the cow and T-Rex)