It was December 30, 2009, the last chance for anyone to make the 1000m team. The last spot of the Olympic team was to be selected from the fastest time skated. Before my race that day I prayed Psalm 31: “My times are in Thy hands…” Little did I know the entire psalm was a foreshadowing of the day ahead.
I fell the last 20-30 feet of my 1000m! As I processed my shattered dream I was carried off the ice repeating, “I suck.” I was embarrassed and mortified. All I could think about was, “That was it. That was my career. I’m done.”
But then, as I was congratulating the girl who had the current spot on the team, I was told by the chief referee I was able to re-skate if I so desired. I thought I was out of the game so I just wanted to go out there and skate a good race for my friends and family. I didn’t think I could skate faster than the time to beat. I only had a half hour, if that, to prepare for my race.
The gun went off. I didn’t know how fast I was going because my coaches and I agreed to not show lap boards during my races. Sometimes I accidently catch lap times from the announcer, but the rink was louder than normal. I couldn’t see that the entire Utah Olympic Oval stopped what they were doing to cheer for my re-skate. The whole 100m stretch was lined up two to three people deep, people were on the pads, and the bleachers were full. I crossed the line with a personal best and the win. I made the 2010 Olympic team!
God uses our talents to draw us nearer to Him. I fully believe the Lord gave me the gift of speed skating for the sole purpose of having a relationship with Him.
I moved to Salt Lake City shortly after graduation from high school in order to pursue my dream of competing in the Olympics. My life was lived with total disregard and reckless abandon from God. But there came a point where I felt I needed to spiritually define my life and gain some perspective. I truly believe that if God hadn’t gifted me the desire to speed skate, I would never have moved to Salt Lake and would not have a relationship with Him today.
In the past, skating was my religion. I used my talent to gain status and to appear successful within my social network. But inside I was tormented from depression and anxiety and could not understand the purpose of life. My self-worth and self-image were completely wrapped up in my performance and ranking. When I exhausted what I thought were all means for me to find happiness, I reluctantly went to the last place I ever expected to find peace — church.
I remember stepping into my first service as a complete cynic, and determined to squeeze this congregation into my paradigm of hypocrites. I can’t remember what was said, but a revelation was set ablaze within me. It dawned on me that everything I was taught from the Bible as a child is truth. That night I chose to have God as the center of my life.
Since that pivotal faith decision, I have a joy and an anchor that surpasses all understanding. Now I use my skating as a means of worship to God.
It isn’t about me or skating, but about God and His love. He sent His Son, Jesus, to take away the condemnation that was on me and to give me life to the full. He is in my life and lovingly uses my dreams and desires so I can know and love Him. And He offers that love and relationship uniquely to everyone.
— Rebekah Bradford, USA Speed Skater