Becoming An Ironman

Just the other day, a good friend asked me, “How do you know when you’re hearing from God?”

My quick response was, “I don’t.”

I think it caught both of us by surprise. As I started thinking about my answer, it brought to mind an example.

This past Fall, as I was thinking through my goals for the upcoming year, I had the inclination to complete another Half Ironman. I wrote it down in my journal along with a few other goals.

It was a terrible idea.

Actually, it was downright ludicrous. I hadn’t raced in over a year and with the added endeavor of writing a book, my time was limited; not to mention fatherhood and business responsibilities. Why would I possibly sign up for this race?

One simple reason: There was this feeling that God was present in that goal setting process.

I wouldn’t possibly suggest that God told me to do this, but my decision was to take action in a certain direction, trusting that He would move.

So, this weekend, I will travel to Raleigh to complete the seventy mile Half Ironman.

lexisnexis ironman 70 3 raleigh 230x130

Just last night, as I was mentally engaged in preparing for my race, I had the strangest dream. I dreamt about the race, being at the starting line, ready to begin. As I looked around, I was surrounded by my friends.

Amazed that they were there, I kept thinking, They haven’t trained. How are they going to complete the race?

As I woke up, I thought back to my friend’s question about hearing from God. When I combined it with my dream, I feel like God may have been teaching me through this process after all.

I am reminded that everyone is running. Maybe not physically, but they are all engaged in their own journey, in their own race.

As a mother, you’re completing an Ironman.

As a father, you’re completing an Ironman.

As an employee, a friend, a student, a teacher…you are too.

I need to respect that.

“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders us and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.” Hebrews 12:1

We all have races that are marked out for us, the question becomes, are we paying attention? Are we persevering?

The truth is, persevering looks a lot like training and training is difficult. It isn’t glorified and it often isn’t fun, but that’s where God shows up. Sometimes hearing from God rests on our willingness to respond to the call to train. Our call to put in the work.

When I read the Bible, I see stories of people who truly encountered God and were forever shaped by that experience: Paul, Moses, Elijah. Those moments are what we long for, but those are the finish line moments. Moments of great accomplishment.

In between those experiences, training was required. These Biblical examples all continued to respond to the call in between their finish line moments.

“For physical training is of some value, but godliness has value for all things, holding promise for both the present life and the life to come.” 1 Timothy 4:8

I don’t discount that God can and will show up on His own accord, but I do believe that as we walk with eyes wide open, our ears intent on listening, we will encounter God.

So then, can we position ourselves to actively seek, to active train as we wait for God?


In the end, our races are less about who we are and more about who we are becoming.

We are all becoming Ironmen or we aren’t.

It has to do with our recognition of the race, our willingness to train, and how we answer the call to persevere.

Our life’s race is made up of much smaller races. Some appear to be fun and enjoyable while others appear treacherous and painful. Regardless, they’re each adventures in their own right.

The point is to walk these adventures with faith, understanding that He who has started a good work in us will carry it to completion. That all things work for the good for those who love the Lord and are called according to His purpose. That He knows the plans He has for us, plans to prosper us, give us hope and a future.

Ironmen are willing to train, to persevere, and to finish the race.

My hope is that you will think of me on Sunday, but not for my sake. I hope it will remind you of your own race and that together we will embrace the call to persevere.

Question: What race are you faced with today? How can I help you persevere?


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9 Responses to Becoming An Ironman

  1. Judi Fox May 30, 2014 at 2:14 pm #

    WOW! This really spoke to me today. I could go back through all the great points, but then I would be re-writing your post. This really adds to where I have been heading with my thoughts and prayers. I recently dyed my hair pink (a seemingly random decision on the outside – here is the inside story –, but when I was praying and writing – I knew God was there in this action. I am never truly positive that “God told me to do XYZ”, but if you are feeling led and you explore the situation you can sometimes catch a glimpse of God. It also just reminds me to keep exploring the thoughts “how can I best serve you [God] and bring you all the glory”. Will be thinking of you on Sunday!

    • Matt Ham May 30, 2014 at 4:45 pm #

      Judi – I’m so glad (and I loved the blog about the pink hair!)

      As we continue to take steps and press into Him, He will light our path!

  2. Robby Robbins May 30, 2014 at 4:12 pm #

    Again, good luck this weekend. I have a few race singlets that have 1 Cor 9:24-27 on it. Austin 70.3 a few years back, I vividly remember suffering up a hill with both hammy’s cramping and a girl asked me about the scripture. We talked about it for several minutes, I stopped cramping an moved on. That was an appointment, I look at every race as a mission trip in a way. Your appointment is just around the corner. Have fun!

    • Matt Ham May 30, 2014 at 4:44 pm #

      Robby – what a breath of fresh air as I head into the weekend! Thank you brother!!

  3. Zechariah Newman May 30, 2014 at 5:13 pm #

    Great post! Good luck Matt. I pray that God speaks to you in a special way during the race.

    • Matt Ham May 30, 2014 at 8:45 pm #

      I’m all ears Zech!!

  4. Laura Robb June 8, 2014 at 4:39 pm #

    “Sometimes hearing from God rests on our willingness to respond to the call to train. Our call to put in the work.” Amen! Such a great post, Matt, & I really like how you related your story of training for the Ironman to the race we all run in life!

    So how was the race?


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