Hi, it's Natalie K. One month ago today I completed my college swimming career. I was so grateful to have my mom, dad, and older sister, Lindsey there to participate in that special event. It wasn't just an event, rather it represented years of hard work, toil, tears, sweat, laughs, highs, lows, and many life lessons learned along the way.
I know many of you prayed for me, encouraged me, and cheered me on during the final few weeks of my season and I want to say, THANK YOU. I can not tell you how much you encouraged and strengthened me. As they say, when we pray the heavens move. God's heavenly hosts are sent out. I can tell you without a doubt, I experienced that first hand. I got to participate in the worship of heaven. I got to see a glimpse of the face of God. It was surreal. I felt like everything I touched the final few days of my season turned to gold. It sure wasn't me, but Him through me. It was the craziest, coolest thing ever!!!
Results wise, I swam lifetime best times in many of my events the final month of my season beginning in LSU with the 200 fly “glory story breakthrough swim.” From there, I just rode the wave, so to say. I wasn't sure all that God was doing or would do. Maybe that would be my last PR [personal record]; maybe there would be more to come; I don’t know.
Well we got to the Conference USA championship meet at the end of February and after a couple crazy fast swims early on in the meet, I wanted to just be done--"Okay God, this is great. I've done well. Let's end it now while I'm ahead."
"Oh no," I heard Him say. "I'm not done. The battle is over, but I am going to ride my
V-I-C-T-O-R-Y flag around this battlefield so that all will know how great I AM. They will know what a miracle this is. Hop on girl. We are going to finish this out."
It was cool. I don't know how else to describe it. My teammates, coaches, and some of the fans who had watched me over the years, didn't know what to say. There was no logical explanation for my performances--no rhyme or reason behind it. It was the Spirit. It was me surrendering all, basking in the moment, and wanting to participate in the worship of heaven. I wanted to bring a smile to His face.
The cool thing was (is), I didn't have to go PRs. That wasn't going to make or break me. Yet He chose to reveal Himself to me in that way. It was the icing on the cake--the cherry on top. The battle was over--it had already been won. This was the victory lap. The battle was won when I tore down the façade and masks I had lived behind for so long. It was won when I made the decision to not believe the lie the enemy was feeding me: "You're done, Nat. You're never going to swim fast again. You're washed up. You have nothing left to give. Face it. Accept it." It was won as I loosened my grip on performance, swimming, others' opinions of me, and the world's view of time and began embracing His opinion of me, His Truth, and His timing.
Worship is eternal. I believe many of my final swims will stand forever because they were acts of worship for my King. I think God has got them on tape, so you'll be able to watch them on the Other side. I believe we will be able to re-live, in a way, those moments that are pure, raw forms of worship. I tasted His goodness. I saw a glimpse of His face. I got to experience healing. Remember, it was less than a year ago that they discovered I was misdiagnosed with a thyroid disorder. My physical body was out-of-whack. My spiritual health was far from whole. I had not swam a PR in about three years. Yet someone prayed over me in August and said, “Your speed will return and when it does, you’ll wonder how you got as fast as you got. He will re-train your muscles.”
I didn’t know how God was going to pull that off. Maybe it would be seasonal best times; maybe I would swim better than I did last year… I didn’t know how this was going to come to fruition. I wrote it in my journal and thought about it a couple times over the year, but sometimes forgot about it completely. And then it all came full circle. He did exactly what He said He would do. He was with me the whole season. He carried me through. He did re-train my muscles. He healed me from the inside out. He gave me a new heart in the process and I came out on the other side transformed and healed. I’m a living miracle grateful that I got to be an actress in His great story.
The month of February was a high for sure. It is hard coming off of that. A verse that has come across my path many times in the last few weeks is Hebrews 2:1, "...we must pay MUCH CLOSER ATTENTION to what we have heard, so that we DO NOT DRIFT AWAY from it." I don't want to forget this experience. I don't want to forget from where He brought me from. It's truly a miracle.
I pray you have been blessed and encouraged through this story and drawn closer to the heart of God. Know that God is faithful. What He says, He will do. What He starts, He finishes.
Thank you for journeying with me, supporting me, and praying me through.
A few verses & quotes that I meditated on during my “final lap”:
- "Your light will break out like the dawn, and your recovery will speedily spring forth; and your righteousness will go before you; the glory of the LORD will be your rear guard." (Isaiah 58:8)
- “The real moment of success is not the moment apparent to the crowd.” (George Bernard Shaw)
- "...‘Not by might nor by power, but by My Spirit,’ says the LORD." (Zechariah 4:6)
- "Yet I will exult in the LORD, I will rejoice in the God of my salvation. The Lord GOD is my strength, and He has made my feet like hinds' feet, and makes me walk on my high places." (Habakkuk 3:18-19)
- "...creation itself also will be set free from its slavery to corruption into the freedom of the glory of the children of God." (Romans 8:21)
- "...I will watch expectantly for the LORD; I will wait for the God of my salvation. My God will hear me. Do not rejoice over me, O my enemy. Though I fall I will rise; Though I dwell in darkness, the LORD is a light for me." (Micah 6:7-8)
- "...You will take delight in the LORD, and I will make you ride on the heights of the earth..." (Isaiah 58:14)
- "The LORD is exalted, for He dwells on high; He has filled Zion with justice and righteousness. And He will be the stability of your times, a wealth of salvation, wisdom and knowledge; the fear of the LORD is his treasure." (Isaiah 33:5-6)