I have to be honest. I couldn’t wait to get to the pool that afternoon and watch Drew swim. I think the parents in the stands were more nervous and anxious than the boys on the deck. An excitement and energy rippled through the building as we all stood for the national anthem and then settled in to watch the boys swim.
As the meet progressed, the score remained close through the halfway point. We won some races, and they won some races. Finally, the time came for the 50-meter freestyle.
There were three heats in this event, and Drew swam in the third heat. I was a wreck. Every parent in the building feel silent as the four fastest freestylers from each team stepped up on the starting blocks.
The announcer called the swimmers to “ready.” I took and held in a deep breath and focused on the skinny swimmer in lane eight.
“Set” was the last discernible word spoken, followed by the loud beep of the starter’s horn. After that, all the sounds melded together into an indiscernible roar.
Eight young men sliced into the pool and swam with all their might. As they came to the wall, it was close, very close—less than two seconds separated 4th from 8th place. And from my angle I couldn’t tell who finished in what position. Drew could have been 5th or he could have been in 8th place, I just didn’t know. Again the pool area fell silent as the times flashed up on the board.
The skinny kid in lane eight finished 7th, and I was delighted. He did not score (only the top 5 score), but he did swim the 50-yard freestyle in under 30 seconds—29.79. As a matter of fact, every boy in that heat swam under 30 seconds.
Several important things happened in that moment. As the crowd erupted in a fresh round of cheers, my son looked up into the stands and found his mother and me. When our eyes met, he pointed to the scoreboard and pumped his fist. I nodded vigorously and gave him the thumbs up. In this precious moment, the Lord reminded me that relationship and delight trump excellence every time.
God delights in us because we are His sons and daughters. Whether we come in 1st or 7th or 208th place, His eyes are on us. He wants the best for us, and He wants us to do our best. But never forget that our ability to excel has no bearing on God’s desire to love and express delight in us as His children.
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