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Saturday, 20 August 2016

A Triune Spectacular.

For me, three is a very special number. It is special because the very essence of the Godhead is triune, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, which we refer to as the Holy Trinity, even if the word Trinity does not appear within the entire Bible. Neither for that matter a title The Prodigal Son appears either, but this parable spoken by Jesus and recorded in the 15th chapter of Luke's Gospel, is familiar to many, whether the Bible is read widely or not. Yet, sure enough, in the story of the Prodigal Son, there are three main characters - the father, the elder son, and his younger sibling whose want for a more "swinging" life placed him as the principal character of the story. Also the phrase God the Son does not occur in the Bible either, but is a title easily understood by everyone who accept the Trinity as a fundamental Bible-based doctrine. Like the way he describes Himself as being Eternal. Three pairs of names are here used: The First and Last, the Alpha and Omega, the Beginning and the End. Then not to mention the three characteristics of God: Omniscient, Omnipresent, and Omnipotent. He even has three names or titles: Yahweh, El Shaddai, and Elohim, the latter being plural in itself, although Adonai (meaning Lord) is sometimes used instead for Yahweh, out of respect by the Jews.

And the Trinity can be seen in Creation. The three inhabitants of all life is on Land, in the Sea, and in the Air, as material itself consist of Solid, Liquid and Gas, as with water - the sustainer of all life - when exposed to different temperatures. Even the water molecule, which is behind the sustenance of all life, consist of one Oxygen atom and two Hydrogen atoms. Time itself consist of the Past, the Present and the Future, as with space as well - Length, Width and Volume, well demonstrated as a length of string, a sheet of paper, and a brick. Or as with a cube or cuboid, you can only see up to three sides at any one time without the need to turn it around or to lift it up.

As for our planet itself consisting of three classes of rock, at least in the Crust, according to the geologist. They are Igneous, Sedimentary, and Metamorphic. The first has to do with volcanic action, and even this come in three types: Granite, Andesite, and Basalt. Sedimentary, layered rock deposited by water, is broadly classed as Limestone, Sandstone, and Chalk, with variations between each. Then the Metamorphic rocks, of which there are many types, are formed by Heat, Pressure, and Chemical Processes whilst deep within the Earth.

We as humans are made in the image of God and therefore the crown of all Creation. We are the only living species which consist of Spirit, Soul, and Body. Our way of existence consisting of Thought, Will, and Emotion. Unfortunately, we are sinners, with sin consisting of man's rejection of God's Holiness, man's rejection of God's Leadership, and man's rejection of God's Provisions.

And nothing more than the love of God towards mankind who remains helpless and lost in sin than to send his Son to be crucified, and therefore to face his Death, Burial, and then his Resurrection in order for God to willingly give his free gift of salvation to all believers. And this free gift of salvation is of itself threefold: Acquittal, Imputation, and Eternal Security. Acquittal is the removal of all sin from the believer - past, present and future. Imputation is to have the righteousness of Christ credited to the believer's account. That is, God the Father sees him as he saw his own Son throughout his ministry - totally sinless and fully beloved. Eternal Security arises from the simple fact that the believer is regenerated by imputation and is now an eternal member of God's family. Because of this, he could never ever be lost again.

The believer is saved for all eternity (in his spirit), is being saved (the process of sanctification), and he will be saved in the future (glorification of the body).

Parallel to all this is the sport of Triathlon. And how I was enthralled to watch the Olympic Men's Triathlon at Rio de Janeiro last week. It was won by a member of Team Britain, Yorkshireman Alistair Brownlee who took the gold, while his younger brother Jonathan took the silver. But these two also have a third brother Edward, who shunned the Triathlon as "being for softies" and took to Rugby - the "real he-man's game", instead. Some may gasp at Edward's verdict on such an endurance sport, but I think I know where he was coming from. When I started competing in Triathlons myself in 1986, I also became a subscriber of Triathlete, a monthly American magazine dedicated to the sport, back then with a few pages in the centre to British events and its competitors. The latest edition came through my door bearing a photo of a female cyclist on the front cover. A friend of mine, with no small wit, came to visit me and picked up the magazine.
Ah! The Triathlon is a woman's sport!

I couldn't help blushing slightly as he grinned from ear to ear in mirth, with myself admitting that yes, the sport is popular with females too. But I would have liked to have seen him compete against "the Big Four" Dave Scott, Scott Tinley, Mark Allen, and Scott Molina - all American champions of the day, with Dave Scott being overall winner of the Hawaii Ironman on several occasions of his career which spanned throughout the late eighties, into the nineties. There was even a brand of top-class racing bicycle named after him, with the advertising slogan: If you're not on one you'll be behind one. Indeed, a smart play on the psycho to get people to buy. Oh, by the way, the Ironman Triathlon, originated from Hawaii, but by 1990 such events were held around the world, consisted of 2.4 mile 3.86 km open water swim, 112 mile 180.25 km cycle, and a marathon run of 26.22 miles 42.20 km. The entire course, divided into three disciplines performed one straight after another non-stop totals 140.62 miles 227.8 km. I wish I had dared my friend to give the Ironman Triathlon a go! Soft sport indeed.

Farnham Triathlon (staggered start) 1987

I can't help comparing the Triathlon - consisting of one race of three stages: Swim, Cycle, and Run - yet timed from the start of the Swim to the end of the Run - to the Trinity, the Three-in-One Godhead. Other multi-discipline events has been around for a long time, such as the Heptathlon, a seven-discipline event made up of 100 Metre Hurdles, High Jump, Shot Put, 200 Metres, Long Jump, Javelin, and 800 Metres. Or the Decathlon, consisting of 100 Metre Sprint, Long Jump, Shot Put, High Jump, 400 Metres, 110 Metres Hurdles, Discus, Pole Vault, Javelin, and the 1,500 Metres. The Decathlon normally span two days. This make these events "virtually invisible" - that is, by watching someone throw a javelin, jump over a high rail, or run in a 100 metre sprint, the spectator would more likely be unaware that the competitor is in a multi-discipline event unless otherwise told.

Not so with the Triathlon! The Swim, Cycle, and Run makes up one race, with the two transitions adding further challenges to the competitor. In my day, the Triathlon was a new sport, the first event taking place in San Diego on September 25th, 1974, but did not find its way into the UK until the Summer of 1983, at Kirtons Farm near Reading, nine years after the inaugural San Diego event. However, it was a further seventeen years before its inclusion into the 2000 Sydney Olympic Games. But even before then, by 1986 I was already competing across the country. I recall the nostalgia of using a second-hand commuting bicycle I bought for a cheap price before upgrading to a lighter-framed racing machine suitable for Triathlon events.

The spirit of camaraderie between participants was strong, as the emphasis was more about finishing rather than who would take home the winner's trophy. A Commemorative medal was awarded to every finisher, and I saw that as a personal achievement just to be in possession of such an item. The overall atmosphere at a typical event was pleasant, somewhere where even a family can turn up to picnic and not feel out of place. Being such a novelty sport, the triathlon attracted participants from all walks of life and a wide age-range. Although most events had a minimum age of eighteen years (if I recall), the average Triathlon, open to the public, also attracted senior citizens - including one elderly gentleman in his seventies, speeding away on a heavy roadster of a bicycle, complete with shopping basket attached to its handlebars! Although very unlikely that he had taken home a trophy, maybe not even a Senior Veteran's trophy, there is little doubt in my mind that he returned home feeling highly exhilarated, having conquered one of his toughest challenges of his life, maybe since the War.

Winchester Triathlon, 1987.

And so I watched both Olympic Triathlons at Rio last week, the men's event on Thursday, and the women's event on Saturday, each from start to past finish. Unlike all the other events, I find the Triathlon electrifying and rather emotional to watch. Could this be because it is the only sport which symbolise the Trinity? Or could I now be enjoying the sport on a vicarious way, having competed in over two dozen Triathlons during my peak of fitness? Or could it be that at school I was lousy at team ball games, and the Triathlon was the answer to my otherwise sporting disability? Maybe all three? Even if over the decades the Triathlon has evolved from a social-based, camaraderie-felt atmosphere of a personal challenge, to an elitist, extremely expensive sport reserved for professionals with a high income. After all, the bicycle used in Triathlons is no longer the second-hand mount purchased for £30-00 at a backstreet cycle shop, but a purpose-built machine worth thousands of pounds, which you would never see locked up at the street or shopping mall, but only at the Triathlon cycle racks.

Triathlon is a great, exciting sport, which I relate as the sporting symbol of the Trinity. This could also be due to the crowds which assembled along the course in Rio, when there were many empty seats at the Stadium and other sporting venues. Like me, they too love real excitement.


  1. Interesting.
    We wouldn't know anything of the Trinity apart from the fact that it was revealed by the Son. Perhaps we can work backwards from that to see it in other things.

  2. Dear Frank,
    Fascinating analogy in the Olympic realm! As I'm sure you know, I love this post, given my near-obsession with the doctrine of Trinity! The idea of the Triathlon is appealing as it suggests a sense of balance and excellence in the three disciplines, which also has its parallel to the Christian race.
    Thanks as always for the great post, and God bless,