Hello, dear reader. The Tick Tock has stopped for our dear friend, John Jacob. Days are grey and tears abound. Yet, in the midst of the dark days ahead, we have an assurance that our Ironman, the Finisher, is enjoying Heaven, post-race. I want to thank everyone who encouraged, rallied, cheered and cheerfully gave their resources to his family. May God”s blessings pour upon you a thousandfold for your generosity!
As a tribute to John, I am sharing this piece written by Binoy Sadia in 2010. It was originally published in an anniversary issue publication of Lighthouse Christian Community.
Testimony of John Jacob
By: Binoy Sadia
The sun was high as the competitors were all geared up at the starting line and John was there with the other 750 Ironman aspirants, waiting for the “bang” of the race gun that would signal the start of the race. And as the race progresses, John would still be in touch with his Coach. John’s exposure to sports dates back in high school as a varsity swimmer in Don Bosco and represented De La Salle University in college. But even if he was considered as a cherished campus asset, John felt insignificant and thought that he was not getting much attention. This made things dim for him when he directed his gaze to which is considered to be unthinkable, fatal and blinding- drugs would seem to be the key to hit the spotlight’s switch, grab everybody’s attention and would probably make him prove his worth. “I took drugs to boost my self-confidence, to stand-out, to be accepted and to tell others that taking drugs is something that not everyone can do” John admits. However, this did not meet his expectations. He never finished college at De La Salle University. At work, he ended up being a big time lip service artisan where his bosses would finish the job he is supposed to accomplish. People began to question his work ethic and value as an individual not to mention emotional displays of uncontrolled anger, rage and mood swings. It got worse when his wife wanted to leave him because of failure to carry out his duties as a husband and father to two children. “I used the money that I earn to buy drugs. If I ran out of resources, I would sell whatever item in the house.” John excluded.
As one would say, there is always a dreadful end for someone who carries a stubborn head. John’s wife expressed her intentions of leaving him since she cannot bear the husband’s life-crushing addiction. Their marriage started to get shaky and was on the verge of a total collapse and Chinkie doesn’t want to get buried in the rubble. Afraid of losing his family, John made up his mind. He left the job that was once a haven for his drug-snuffling sessions, and made a decision that will once and for all change his life. That decision made its mark in 1998 in a church that meets on a Sunday inside a cinema house in Alabang Town Center. It graced the pages of John’s personal history book and would eventually be coined as the year of the great leap- a crossover from lurking and wandering in the wasteland of drugs to resting in the lush paradise of hope and newness. “The Lord just released me from drug addiction the moment I asked for His Holy Spirit to empower me to hate drugs.” John exclaimed. This distinct kind of high catapulted him to a place that not even a breeze of a single gram of shabu could reach. It is a higher ground that the God he once ignored had built just for him, and as he became free of any trace of drug dependence, his new found strength enabled him to stay away from smacked-out peers. John’s steady flight continues when he embarked on a challenge that will test his capability of finishing something significant.
As he waited for August 22, 2010, John made serious preparations for his stint in the most grueling and toughest triathlon event in the country- Ironman 70.3, which is composed of 1.1 kilometer swim, 90 kilometers of cycling and ending it with a 21 kilometer run. A participant cannot be labeled as such without conquering all events. For John this is something big and a special one for him. “I want to prove that I can finish,” John mentioned with utmost fervor. And even in this journey as an athlete, faith played a vital role as it became his most prized possession. This would mean unsolicited nuggets of advice and wisdom from whom John considers as his strength and condition coach- Jesus Christ. John would soon overcome what every participant in the event would encounter as he began to be dependent on his unseen personal Trainer. “When I started trusting God, nervousness was no longer an issue for me. “ John recalls. The passage Psalm 47 in the holy book became John’s code of sports conduct. The training preparation was intense. After dropping his children to school, John had regular running routines at Daang Hari. After the sprint, he would start stroking in the swimming pool of San Beda Alabang and the the following day will be allotted for cycling. The stage is set and John graced Ironman 70.3. “During the swimming leg, I heard the Lord saying ‘John, stop…’ Then when I pulled my head out of the water, I saw a post that could possibly injure my head. The post serves as a ramp for wake boarding” John heeds the advice of his invisible Coach otherwise he could have end up floating in the lake and not finishing the race. The beauty of nature did not escape the eyes of John during the cycling race and as he was enjoying the creation of his Coach, the sapping fatigue would turn to praise. “Seeing Mt. Isarog made me realize that there are issues in my heart that you can’t seem to move but by faith I can move mountains. My strength comes from him.” After six hours and 40 minutes, John finally pressed stop in his watch to imply his completion of the triathlon. Out of the 63 participants under the 44-49 year old age group, only 44 competitors finished and John came in 17th. Out of the total 750 individuals that participated, John took the 300th spot.
For John, the Ironman experience was no different from his fight with drug addiction because like triathlon, everyone is in a race called life. It’s either you quit while others continue without minding the distant location of the finish line. The common principle for success between the race of life and a triathlon is how one sticks to the training program that makes him determined to finish. It is common knowledge that without discipline there will be no victory. As John puts it in the perspective of a tri athlete, “God is the lifter of my head. If you don’t start your day reading the Word of God, you won’t finish the race of life. If the Lord says stop, I stop”. Slowing down and stopping for a while in a race could guarantee a sure finish.
|No goodbyes, John. Just goodnight.|