Swimming to the wall

When I was in high school, I started swimming competitively year-round. One lesson I learned from my coaches, which has impacted how I work and live, is that the athlete must always swim to the wall, in practice as well as in competition. Often, in practice, we would slow down as we approached the wall at the end of a series, and sometimes we didn’t even touch the wall to complete the distance we were supposed to swim. Our coaches hated that lazy habit and drilled us out of it. “If you do that in a race,” they said, “your effort will count for nothing – you didn’t finish the race! Always swim to the wall. Finish! And if you swim to the wall in practice, you will do it in the race.”

Would Michael Phelps have won so many gold medals in 2008 if he hadn’t swum to the wall with everything he had in him?

My email migration team and I are approaching the wall in our project. We are on an excellent pace, doing far better than I expected – we have finished more than 95% of all the accounts. I expect us to be done by the end of this month. But we can’t let up now and just coast in, and we can’t stop short of completion. The last 5% require more effort now that we’re so close.

We have a mix of people who are left. Obviously, there are folks who have put off the process as long as possible. I understand that. Do you remember worrying over the order in which kids were to present their book reports in school? Most kids wanted to be at the end – and they’re the same way now as adults! There are also people who have schedules that are difficult to accommodate, and there are people who are traveling out of the country.

This week, I have to orchestrate the migration of some accounts for a couple who are so far out in the boonies on the other side of the world that they’re not even in email contact. I have to plan this in such a way that they don’t freak out when they return to the nearest city and that there’s someone on hand who knows enough about the situation to help them “get connected” again. These people are folks I do not wish to disappoint – the fellow’s a well-respected anthropologist who helps translators understand the people they’re working with. This cultural knowledge helps the message of the translated Bible really shine into the hearts of the people who read it.

So please don’t stop praying for my team and me – we want to touch the wall at full speed! (And not just with email!)

“Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already been made perfect, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.” (Paul, in Philippians 3:12-14)

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David Liddle

I grew up outside of Philadelphia in Media, PA, and graduated from The Citadel in 1994. I joined Wycliffe Bible Translators in 1995 and went to Africa for the first time in 1997. Katherine and I were married in November 1998.