Can You Do it in the Dark?


The craziness around us seems to keep ramping up, doesn’t it? If we’re not facing REALLY hard things, then certainly we’re watching people we love hit walls that leave them gasping for breath. 

When I think of doing hard things, I can’t help but consider the most decorated Olympic swimmer of all time. Michael Phelps won 28 medals in his Olympic career – 23 gold! It sounds superhuman, but to understand his road to success, we must consider the most critical pieces of Phelps’ years of development behind the scenes.

Coach Bob Bowman trained Phelps for challenging conditions. This veteran coach had watched many athletes crack under pressure in competition, so he devoted his days to preparing Phelps for every conceivable adversity. 

For instance, he intentionally poked holes in the swimmer’s goggles. (What kind of coach does that?!) But, Bowman knew, if Phelps could learn to keep swimming when water breached his equipment and obscured his vision, he wouldn’t panic.

Other times, this coach would let Phelps start his laps, then switch off all the lights in the pool. It sounds mean, but Phelps learned to swim in the dark. It forced him to count the strokes on each turn, so he didn’t plow into the wall when he could not depend on his sight. 

Let’s take a quick time-out! Can you do what you do in the dark? Can you keep going when everything you thought you could count on but Jesus has crumbled underneath you? Can you?

Stay with me. 

It was 10:00 a.m, Beijing time. Phelps positioned himself at the starting block just as he had hundreds of times since he was 12 years old. He was ready…or so he thought. 

The moment Phelps hit the water, something went terribly wrong. Water started to fill his goggles! He was in trouble! By the second turn, everything blurred. By the third turn, water completely engulfed his eyewear. He couldn’t see the lines, the bottom, the wall…NOTHING. His victory was under siege! 

In that moment, Phelps realized all those challenging conditions his coach had pushed upon him were the only reason he still even had a chance! 

He knew he had 21 strokes left to reach the wall in the final lap. He began to push with all he had. He could hear the crowds cheering but had no idea if they were cheering for him or someone beating him. He just kept pressing with all the strength he could muster, regardless of who was ahead.

When Phelps reached the wall and ripped off his waterlogged goggles, he looked up at the board. He had to look twice! There it was…his name at the top! And, right beside it…“WR.” Y’all! WR means world record!

Not only did Phelps win gold under the most challenging conditions of any race he’d ever faced, but he also broke his record and EVERY record…of ALL TIME!

When everything went sideways and seemed certain to sabotage his victory, the hard things he did when nobody was looking made the greatest difference. That’s when he realized his coach had made it hard early on so Phelps could pass every test later on!

Friend, I don’t know what you’re facing. It may feel like every kind of crazy has come to sabotage your race. But, this I know! If you saturate yourself in God’s directives and allow Him to train you for every situation, YOU WILL be able to keep pushing through, NO MATTER WHAT! 

The very thing that causes others to quit will serve as fuel for your moving. Not only will you come out triumphant on the other side, but you will also thrive right through the turmoil and turbulence while others buckle. The very thing that seeks to defeat you will thrust you forward toward the victory line! 

Hear me! You can do it…even in the dark! 

For comments or prayer, please contact Dr. Lanier at


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