Finding Strength in the Lord – Part Nine

“Know you not that they which run in a race run all, but one receives the prize? So run, that you may obtain. And every man that strives for the mastery is temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a corruptible crown; but we an incorruptible.  I therefore so run, not as uncertainly; so fight I, not as one that beats the air: But I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection: lest that by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway.”  I Corinthians 9: 24 – 27

In the February 1952 issue of Iron Man Magazine Bob Peeples, a world-renown lifter and writer for the magazine, tells the story of their first meeting. A 19 year old Paul went into Peeples’ weight room, and without any warm up or wraps, squatted 550lbs…in just his regular shoes. At 5’10” tall, the 275 lb teenager with the 50-inch chest had just squatted 25lbs under the standing 575 lb world record, and he did it twice.

Paul didn’t always have access to traditional weights, so he made his own out of household items like 55 gallon drums filled with concrete, the aforementioned safe, and iron wheels. Paul also developed his own training methods that included squatting all day, every other day.

Three days before the Olympic weight lifting competition Paul developed a high fever and inner ear infection.. At the last minute he was allowed to compete.

An ailing Anderson fell so far behind his chief rival that on the final of three required lifts, he needed to clean and jerk 413.5 pounds, an Olympic record, to claim the gold. Twice he tried and failed. On the third attempt Paul had a talk with the Lord saying, “I’m not trying to make a deal, Lord, no deals, but I must have Your help to get this weight overhead.” Paul made a true commitment to serve God for the rest of his life. He gave the final push and drove the bar overhead, and it stayed. The crowd went wild as Paul returned the bar to the floor. He suddenly was the Olympic Gold Medalist.

Paul often said, “If the strongest man in the world needs Jesus, so do you.”

Paul died on August 15, 1994 from complications from kidney disease at the age of 61 and I conducted his funeral.

Experientially on his deathbed Paul knew, “He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak.”  (Isaiah 40:29)

This bouquet of Scripture typified Paul regarding his true strength.. “Do not grieve, for the joy of the Lord is your strength.” “So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” “The Lord is my strength and my song; he has given me victory.”

Paul often issued this challenge, “If I, Paul Anderson, the World’s Strongest Man, can not make it through one day without Jesus Christ, how can you?”

Like Paul, call on the Lord and commit to Him.