Intentional obstacles

Amidst all the hoopla going on in the Summer Olympics in London, England right now Michael Phelps is once again in the middle of it all. A couple of days ago Phelps broke a 48 year record becoming the all-time winningest Olympic athlete with 19 medals.

As amazing and stunning as that is, the back story is even more fascinating.

During a special segment delving into the his long-time history with coach Bob Bowman, we learned that Bowman has, on occasion, intentionally created obstacles for Michael Phelps.

Having the car pick them up late causing him to miss a meal before a race…

Stepping on his goggles so that they cracked and let in water when he swam…

Why would a coach do such things? Does he have a vendetta against Michael? Is he just sadistic?

Turns out that Bowman wanted Phelps to learn how to deal with adversity so that he would not be unsettled by unexpected things happening at critical moments. And that’s exactly what happened in the 2008 Olympics.

A few meters into one race Michael’s goggles filled with water and made it impossible for him to see. Not a good scenario when you’re trying to win a race.

But since Michael had battled through such obstacles in practice and in other races, it proved to be no problem as he went on to win the race and earn one of his many gold medals.

Chalk one up for the coach. But it’s not a new principle.

Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith   produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. ~ James 1:2-4

Maybe those obstacles of life that push our buttons and stretch our patience to the breaking point are not just arrows sent by the enemy to antagonize us but are really intentional lessons designed by our Maker to develop our character and deepen our trust in Him.

Consider it all joy…


© Richard Alvey and iLife Journey, 2012. All rights reserved.


Filed under Adversity, Determination, Faith, Patience, Religion and Spirituality, Spiritual formation, Spiritual growth, Trusting God

4 responses to “Intentional obstacles

  1. I agree. God design training courses for the trainees.

    but there is a thine line here.

    I don’t agree to a father that allows a child to be run over by a car in the highway, just to teach the child the dangers of playing on the street.

    if we embrace Sickness/Disease as God teaching us a lesson then that tells us our idea of God. sadistic.

    just a few weeks ago, I got robbed. all the money in my wallet taken. I was so frustrated and discourage.
    the devil hounded “I though God loves you? then why such thing happen? He was teaching you a lesson!”

    but because God is my father, I refused to believe the whispers of the devil.
    I knew that even bad things can happen to Christians, but God uses those bad things to bless us.

    the evil things were not part of God’s plan, but God’s plan is so dynamic and genius that even our failures or the evil of this world fits perfectly!
    so much so that it was as if God orchestrated the bad and evil for your own good.

    God knows the bad will happen, but that does not mean it is His heart’s desire for us to perish. we all revert back to Jesus, see God as a loving father for us.

    I love stories like Phelp’s and as well as Lance Armstrong.

    – grace and peace

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