I am a national athlete for Singapore at the South-East Asian (SEA) Games, but more importantly, I bear witness to the epic love of the Lord my Father.
The Lord’s love has reached the deepest, narrowest and darkest pits of my heart, and I can only raise my eyes to the heavens and weep in the majesty of what is to come in the presence of the Lord. I hope that this encourages you, even in the smallest margins.
How not to prepare
When I arrived in Cambodia, there were so many changes to the racing schedule for the 800m and 1500m events at the Games. I found myself moving from training sessions, to race preparation, to preparing for a different event – all within the span of hours.
Eventually, when I realised that I had 24 hours to prepare for the 1500m race, I was not ready. Doubts and fears flooded my mind for hours, and like a moth to a flame, I was drawn to them, in the midst of my lack of preparation.
Have I done enough? Are you good enough? Why not just withdraw from the race?
I found myself breaking down at every waking moment, and then lost a lot of sleep the night before my race, as Insomnia set in with its dear friend, Anxiety.
Then the smoke detector in the Olympic Village room started beeping at 4am the night before my race. (Hello, flashback to Phoebe and her smoke detector for all Friends fans!)
I had two roommates with me, and I feared that I would wake them up if I had a big fuss out of it and affect their recovery – one had an event the next day as well. Ultimately, we did not manage to silence the enemy but threw it as far as we could beyond earshot and waited for the battery to die …
I woke up with barely any sleep and crawled my way to the dining hall for some breakfast, wondering how on earth God expected me to race well in a couple of hours. I decided to take a walk to clear my mind, and amid my wandering, I stumbled divinely on two dear friends from Athletes in Action who were outside the gym, waiting for other athletes to bless.
Tears gushed out like a flooded river before I made my way to them. I could not believe that God would orchestrate this appointment just to comfort me in my moment of defeated self-doubt.
As I continued to prepare for my race, with what little energy I still had, I did what my body remembered how to do on autopilot – eat four hours before, prepare my pre-race snacks, pack my race bag. When I started my warm-up, I was in a disastrous state – I could barely open my eyes, I was barely holding back tears, and I had to prepare to race 3.75 laps around the 400m track.
Even in the pre-race Call Room, I was slapping myself on the face trying to wake up.
Just do what you remember, Ling.
At the start line, I was groggy but alive with the help of some caffeinated drink and sugar in my belly. I recalled the race strategy my coach gave me: Stay controlled, be patient until the 500m mark, and give a quick final 300m as you bring it home. He added: Your pain threshold is your strength. Process, just think about what you have to do at every step.
And that’s exactly what I did. I finished the race in 33°C heat in Cambodia, after 5 hours of sleep and 24 hours of crying, with a bronze medal and a National Record of 4 minutes 26.33 seconds.
My faith is on track
My prayer before I took my first step in the race had been, “Lord, please give me the space to be brave and courageous, and make this race your testimony”. And boy, did the Lord do it.
When I crossed the line and met my friends from Athletes in Action at the finish line, I broke down in tears. I had barely anything to give – like the widow with 2 copper coins as her offering – but the Lord honoured every single coin I offered. The first words I managed were: “The Lord is good all the time, and all the time the Lord is good.”
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For a long time, I have not been able to reconcile the works of men and the ideals of Christianity. How can I surrender but still be expected to give my 100%, especially in sports? How can I reconcile my faith with the pains in sports, and what is expected to get there?
Today, I still don’t have the answer, but I know that through sports, I got to witness and be the privileged beneficiary of the Lord’s epic love. In the darkest parts of my hearts, I saw His light. I finished the race, and He firmed up my faith.
I now remember the mission God gave me when I departed for SEA Games. I wrote it up in this poem:
I have been searching high and low,
For a soul who is willing and able to do;
Someone brave, courageous and wise,
Willing to step up and arise.
It’s tough, I find,
To seek a servant of that kind;
Years I have sought to no avail,
Until I set my eyes upon your veil.
One who’s competent for this mission,
Conceived from birth for this vision;
The power, the hunger, the drive for three,
For which none I find compare to thee.
Therefore I say if you can’t or shan’t,
No one else but you shall can;
I need you my dearest one,
To mind this gap till I raise another one.
- Are you into sports? How do you see God revealing Himself to you through your recreation and hobbies?
- Take a moment to give thanks to God for any success or victories you’ve experienced!