A “Runners” Tale (Part 3)

Focus: it’s a little bit of a loaded word, at least in my life.  If someone tells me to focus, I feel reprimanded, like a kindergartener just learning that maybe that word you learned in school isn’t okay to say…at least not around your parents.  This isn’t the kind of focus I want to talk about.  I’m talking about the focus of where your eyes are pointing, the place your concentration rests.  This is the critical point of interest, at least for my small brain.

In training to run this race, I’ve learned that where I put my focus is absolutely vital in the amount of motivation I have to continue. There are a few places I can cast my vision.  The first being to the side, a very foolish place to be looking if you’re running forward.  Next, you can look far ahead, to the next bend in the road (or, if you’re me, the trail – I love running on trails).  If you’re running in a straight line with absolutely nothing obstructing your view, you could look to the finish line, the very end.  Or, if you’re me, you look down, at the next spot your foot will likely land.  Here’s what happens in my body when I look to these various areas.

If I look to the side, I will likely catch my foot on a root and sprain my ankle, or, possibly trip and fall, likely impaling myself on a fallen branch, maybe dying.  Hence, I don’t look to the side, unless something strange passes through my peripheral vision, in which case, I might glance, but never for long.

If I look a bit ahead, I tend to try to set small goals for myself.  I guess this is a good thing, in theory, but for me, it is kind of defeating.  The reason for this, I think, is that I set a small goal for myself and once I achieve it, I have to set a new one.  There’s no feeling of satisfaction or accomplishment for making it that tenth of a mile, because then I just have to run another tenth…Not awesome.  What’s more is that when my focus is that far ahead, I trip on those roots.  Now, I could hold my gaze on the finish line the entire time.  But, for now, that’s impossible, because a lot of the time, I can’t see it.  I can only think of it fondly and allow me to push on a little harder to get there a little faster, but if I were to hold my gaze on the finish line for the entire run, well, I’d sure miss a lot.

So here’s what I do.  I envision the end, I step out, and I begin to run.  I look down most of the time, focusing on what will happen immediately following so I can remain alert and prepared for what may surround my body at any given moment.  From time to time, I glance ahead a ways, to see what’s to come, and to prepare in each step leading up to that hill or bridge or rock quarry for what I see there, but once I get a feel for that, my eyes are back on the ground.

This is where I think we, as Christians, should keep our gaze, on today, right now.  Heaven should be in our minds all the time, that’s the goal, the prize, and we should never lose sight of that.  But we won’t be able to see Heaven clearly until we’re there, right?  Until then, we’re here, on Earth, living day after day after day, fighting the fights, stopping to stretch, dodging branches and wiping the ever-present spider webs from our faces.  Every once in a while, we glance ahead, make goals for ourselves, prepare ourselves to commit to do what it takes to get there, but then we keep existing.  We can’t hold our focus on those goals without carefully placing our feet on those paths.  We can’t afford to dream without doing, because then the dream won’t come.

These are my thoughts.  Dream of Heaven, set and accomplish small goals in getting there, but, more than that, keep living in today.  Know Jesus, be known by Jesus, be patient with each other, hold the door for someone with full arms, kill your sin, run in the woods…we’re here to bring His name glory.  Let’s do that.

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