At the age of four, I made the choice to yell these two powerful words to a boat driver. At my command the throttle was engaged, and my little frame rose up out of the water of the Pamlico River in Bath, North Carolina. From that very first experience, I was hooked, and “Hit it!” became my phrase of choice for the next 30 years. Because of my commitment to say these words even when I didn’t feel like it, I became a world champion water-skier.
For years I have had the privilege of sharing the message of “Hit it!” to thousands. It’s the powerful truth that falls are not a hindrance to victory; rather, what we do in the midst of the fall can determine how far we will go in life. Every day we have two choices: we can say “hit it” and try again, or we can stay in the water and give up.
I was sharing this message with inmates in a Florida prison recently when I suddenly remembered a scene from my childhood that adds yet another powerful truth to the message of “hit it.” There I was, about 13 years old, in the waters of Lake Kristi. My father had invited friends from our church to come out and watch me practice. I remember looking up at all those people on the deck of our lake house and hoping it didn’t fall into the water.
Nervousness zipped through my veins as the onlookers cheered. Nonetheless, I looked at the boat driver and said, “Hit it!” as I had done a thousand times before. But just when I should have popped up out of the water, something began to pull me back in.
To my horror, I fell.
The crowd cheered me on. “You can do it!” they said in unison.
I wanted to sink under the water at the sound of their voices. I was so humiliated. Here I was, a professional water-skier unable to get up out of the water.
The boat came back to get me, and despite my embarrassing failure, I determined to say “hit it!” once again. The boat took off, and there it was again, an incredible force pulling me back into the water.
“Oh no, not again!” I thought.
With everything I had in me, I held onto the handle and managed to rise up out of the water. Once I regained my composure, I realized what had happened. Because I was wearing a short-length wetsuit that was too big for my frame, water had been able to shoot into my thigh area and fill my wetsuit with pounds of water. This had created such a force of drag that it had pulled me right back into the lake. As I looked behind me, my once thin rear-end was now jiggling with a load of water. It wasn’t a pretty sight!
Knowing there was no way I would be able to successfully run the course with all that water sloshing about, I quickly grabbed hold of the bottom of my wetsuit and pulled it away from my skin. Water began to flow down my leg.
I was free!
With the burden gone, I was now able to perform to the best of my ability.
I shared that scene with the inmates, pointing out the fresh insight I had just gained. Even I, a determined, accomplished water-ski champion couldn’t get out of the water carrying the extra burden of water weight. Despite my awesome and cutting-edge equipment, despite how powerful my boat, despite my knowledge and expertise, despite my determination to “hit it!” and my desire to get up—I simply couldn’t do it.
The same is true in life. We can be ever so committed to say “hit it” to God. We can desire more than anything to live a victorious life. But if we are weighted down, we aren’t going to get very far into our course.
The same is true in life. We can be so ever committed to say “hit it” to God. We can desire more than anything to be successful and to live a victorious life. But, if we are weighted down, we aren’t going to get very far into our course.
We must lose the weight!
Before we go any further, let me make something clear to the ladies. I’m not talking about shedding some of our actual body weight, although being healthy and fit is important. What I am talking about is being willing to open our hearts to God and allow the excess weight of anger, guilt, bitterness, jealousy, unforgiveness, self-pity, greed, and pride to flow out of our lives. I’m talking about releasing the cares and anxieties of our heart and mind. I’m talking about letting go of some habits and sin that continually pull us back to the starting position.
Hebrews 12:1–3 says to “strip off every weight that slows us down,” so that we can run the race God has set before us. That’s our key to victory; the key to moving forward in life. Negative thoughts and emotions, unhealthy habits and choices, and even certain people can weigh us down and prevent our victory.
What has you burdened and weighted down today?
What are you holding onto that is keeping you from victory? Are you angry, bitter, or jealous? How about fearful, guilt-ridden, or ashamed? How are your relationships? It’s time to grab the bottom of your “wetsuit” and let the water flow. It’s time to lose the weight and become free!