unsplash_Path through trees - by Orlova Maria

Photo by Orlova Maria

I have shared before that I took up running. This is not the first time that I have done that. I first tried running in 2012. I hated it. I thought it was horrible and hated the way I felt when I was done. It just plain hurt. I stopped running for a while, but because I had promised my daughter that we would start running together again, I took it back up in September. I did well for a while. Then my daughter started flaking on me, as teenagers sometimes do. But I didn’t give up. I ran long enough to be able to get through a 5K, and then I quit for about a month and a half. I still hated it. I liked the way I felt afterward, but I hated it while I was doing it. Then I started up again mid-January. I’ve been running for about three weeks, and guess what! I have found that I am really enjoying it. I never thought I’d say that, but I enjoy the feeling of strength I get when I get done with the workout. I love that I feel like I have accomplished something. And it gives me time to think.

Those who know me well, know that my favorite place to run is a preserve near my house. There is nothing like running on a path through the trees, enjoying the beauty and sounds of nature. There’s only one problem. I tend to get distracted. When I get distracted, I take my eyes off the path and look around. I might hear a sound and want to figure out what it is. Or maybe I’ll see something out of the corner of my eye. Whatever it is, I take my eyes off the path. And that is when disaster can strike. See, I know the paths of this preserve really well, and most days that’s great. But after a storm, debris can get on the path, and if I am not paying attention, I can trip over it, or twist my ankle, or worst of all (or maybe just the embarrassing of all), fall flat on my face (and yes, that has happened to me). I can have the same issue if I am looking DOWN at the path right in front of me. If I am looking down, I am not giving myself the opportunity to see the obstacles right in front of me, and by the time I do, sometimes I can’t avoid them.

Recently, I was running through the preserve in the morning after it had stormed in the night. As I was running, I got to thinking about the fact that I have my best runs, and I have the least mishaps, when I keep my eyes on the path ahead. When I am looking forward, I see what is coming, and I have time to prepare for them. I am not blinded by what is immediately in front of me, nor am I distracted by the sights and sounds around me. That, in turn, caused me to think about life, and how much like running it can be. Allow me to explain.

In life, it’s so easy to get distracted by the things around me. What is that person doing, or what is that person saying, or why can’t I be like that? Or maybe it’s getting distracted by the stuff that looks fun, but in the end turns out to be empty and devoid of meaning in the long run. And when things go wrong, it’s so easy to be focused on the here and now, that I forget to think about where I am going. Hebrews 12:1-2 says, “Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God” (NASB). I am called to run with endurance the race before me…not looking at my circumstances, which can change with the wind, but keeping my eyes fixed on Jesus. I have a choice. I can either keep my eyes on my circumstances and wallow in despair, feeling sorry for myself. Or, I can fix my eyes on Jesus, and run the race, remembering that this world is not my home. My home is with Jesus. And that is what I need to run toward.

My circumstances lead to a bigger picture. When I look back at the things I have gone through, and the obstacles I have overcome, but could have avoided, I am reminded of how far God has brought me. I could stay mired in my fears and my self-doubt and my self-pity, but instead, I want to choose to run this “race” to reach the final prize, which is to be with Christ. Paul says, in 1 Corinthians 9:24-27, “Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but only one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may win. Everyone who competes in the games exercises self-control in all things. They then do it to receive a perishable reward, but we an imperishable. Therefore, I run in such a way, as not without aim; I box in such a way, as not beating the air; but I discipline my body and make it my slave, so that, after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified” (NASB). I want to run in such a way that I might win the prize. I have an aim, and that is to live for Christ and leave a legacy for those who come behind me. I want to be part of the “cloud of witnesses” for the next generation. So, I am resolved to discipline myself in such a way that I point others to Jesus. I am not perfect, and I never will be, but I want to strive to honor God in all I do, no just the things that I feel like honoring Him.

What about you? Are you being mired down by your circumstances, or are you looking toward the bigger picture, realizing that all things have a purpose? How do you remind yourself to keep your eye on the prize? What are you aiming for?

~Until Next Time,

Karen Signature

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