Getting ready and getting set to go
One of the greatest bones of contention I have about a runner or race participant is when he keeps looking back. Anytime a competitor concentrates on those behind him or beside him, he loses focus on the end goal. I know if I were the competitor, I’d be just as guilty.
But when I’m watching a race, I just want to yell, “Keep your eyes on the goal! Stop looking back!”
When you’re the spectator, this is easy to spot and watch. When you’re the runner, not so much. Yet, if we are honest, we have to admit that the wrong focus can make or break a race.
As the spectator, this bothers me so much because I see how the wrong focus changes the speed and attention of the runner. When he is so busy checking out his competition or looking back to see how close the next runner is, it will slow him down. When you’re running a race, you’ve got to forget about the competition and focus on the goal. That is just how it is in real life.
If we want to run the race successfully, we must practice forgetting, reaching, and pressing.
How to forget
Like the elephant in the room, the more we try to forget something, the more we think about it unless we change our focus. Whether it’s a bad memory, hurtful words, insulting actions, or false accusations, if we keep focusing on those things, we will not run freely because those things will hold us back.
Here are some things that help me in running the race.
- Acknowledge the pain. Admit the pain from the action of others. Ignoring it only continues the festering. Admit it and recognize its hold on you. Then take steps to let it go.
- Forgive the offender. This means he no longer has a hold on you. Forgiveness is as much for you as it is for the offender. Step out of the prison of hate and anger and release the bondage that comes from keeping score and getting even. Holding onto grudges adds weight to your run, hindering you every single day.
- Focus on what is right. Scripture tells us to focus on what is true, honorable, just, pure, lovely, commendable, and excellent. That’s the Prize!
How to reach
Reaching stretches us. What we want does not come to us; we must reach for it. This does not mean we put ourselves in a place where those who have harmed us can continue to abuse, neglect, or emotionally stagnate us. Nor does it mean that we continue to do things that add weight to our run. Whether it’s physical, emotional, or spiritual, we must reach for the goal. This simply means we stretch forward, away from the things which drag us down, and reach toward what enhances us spiritually. It does not even mean that the pain from past instances is no longer there. It does mean that our focus is not on the pain, but on the Power we have in Christ to continue to acknowledge and forgive. Finally, we focus on what brings us peace and joy.
Here is how I practice Reaching.
- Get in shape. This involves disciplines of my mind and soul. It means time in the Word and deliberately choosing to focus on things that fill me with joy and not despair.
- Get in sync. This involves moving in tune with the Spirit of God. When He nudges me, I must choose to respond positively, if I want to continue to train for the race.
- Get in step. My goal must be to cross the finish line. My feet must (literally) be turned in the right direction. Just so it is with my heart. It must also be turned in the right direction. If we are honest, we know what this means.
How to pursue (press on)
When Dave discovered that I was not the girl he originally thought I was, he decided he was interested after all! You know what he did? He pursued me. He learned what made me tick and what made me tock. Dave discovered my love for hot fudge sundaes on hot summer evenings – and did something about it! He focused on figuring out what made me happy, what my interests and desires were, and how to win my heart. This man succeeded because he never stopped. He was out to win this gal and he kept at it until I wondered what was taking him so long to propose.
This is what I know about pressing on.
- We never stop learning about God. To win the race, we keep running until we have accomplished the feat. It’s a daily thing.
- We don’t give in or give up. Life is hard, but we keep running. We keep pursuing. It’s the only way to win the prize.
- We keep on learning until there is nothing left to learn (and there is always more to learn!) As we learn, we grow. The race is still difficult, but the obstacles do not defeat us. We stay on the path until we reach our goal – Heaven with Jesus.
For the New Year, set your goals out of this world. Forgetting, reaching, and pressing will take us safely Home. It’s a race and there are many on the path with us. Keep the Finish Line in view. Don’t look back; let go of your past. Keep reaching toward and pursuing Jesus. The prize will be worth it, some day.
Photo credits: Tania Dimas and Michel Jarmoluk via pixabay.com