I obviously received my dad’s way of thinking: intuitive, type A, future oriented and ready to make my dreams happen. But, recently I’ve been reflecting on this- as great of a blessing this characteristic could be, it’s also a curse. I often lose sight of where I am and the opportunities that may be right in front of me but I’m too motivated on my next mission that I run right passed them to reach my “next stop.” Many times, others that think similarly to me have an eternal destination ahead of us that we are ecstatic about reaching. But, are we present in this life? Are we taking risks, opportunities, and making choices that effect that destination? Jesus prayed for his friends (disciples) that he had while he was on Earth and was very intentional to ask God for specifics in their lives. One of which carries into our lives and commands us to be present: “My prayer is not that you take them out of the world but that you protect them from the evil one.” John 17:15. Through this, we’re able to see that the Lord wants us to be here, in this world, while we are here. This is our mission.
In high school, I ran track in the spring. At first, I decided to run sprint because obviously, I wanted the easy way out and did not want to run distance (respect to all you marathon runners). One day, joking around, I jumped a hurdle and one of the coaches caught me doing so and complimented my form. Having only two others on the actual hurdling team I automatically got “recruited.” As I learned the ins and outs of hurdling I constantly heard my coach yelling from the other side of the track, “keep your eyes on the prize, McAfee.” He said this to remind me that although I had a hurdle coming up, find strength in knowing it’s one more down and one more closer to the finish line. Because Coach Tate’s encouragement became so habitual in practice, I often hear him in the back of my mind as I walk into a class to take an exam, struggle through a (not so frequent) work out, and so on.
How applicable: it doesn’t matter what “hurdle” you have in front of you- whether you see it coming or not- “keep your eyes on the prize.” But, what is your prize? What is your purpose?
Through all of the places your feet may land while you are running the race set before you in life, no one can take away your purpose, no matter the circumstance. We are all running. But, we are all running for many different reasons. Are you running from something that continues to haunt you, that you don’t want to have to see anymore so you turned the other way and booked it? Are you running to something because you see the benefits and you want exactly that?
When you’re running, glance down, look around, wave at people. Be present in the situation the Lord has placed you purposefully. One of my favorite stories was of a man that was robbed and beaten and left on the side of the road on his way to a place called Jericho. A priest passed by and saw the man and kept on walking. Another guy, a Levite, passed by and saw him and kept walking. A Samaritan passed by, saw him, and felt badly for him. He stopped to take care of him, took him to help and left him with a man that would watch over him and make sure he was safe. The Samaritan had a destination that he was going to but was observative of his surroundings and left his own goal to take the opportunity that was laid before him to help someone that was in need. I strive to be the Samaritan. (Luke 10:30-37)
My dad wasn’t an emotional man, unless he was convicted and disappointed in himself. At dinner one night he shared a story with my brothers and I. On a rainy day, he was on his way home from work and happened to be stopped at a stop light. He looked to his left and there was a man in a wheel chair, wheeling himself up-hill in the rain. Dad admitted that he had on a nice suit, that he didn’t know where he would pull his car over, that the man was almost at the top of the hill. When the light went green..he started to choke up…he drove off to come home, anxious to see us. He knew this was an opportunity to not be a hero but to share Christ’s love to someone that needed physical help. Dad prayed for another opportunity to see this man, a second chance. Two weeks later, at a different stop light in a similar part of the city, the man was seen again- wheeling himself up-hill. This time however it wasn’t raining, it was storming. Dad pulled over, and pushed the man up the hill to the man’s destination. Dad’s point in this story was to forewarn us to not look past times to help someone in their time of need, regardless of how it effects your comfort or environment.
It’s a hard balance, especially for me, to be working toward my ambitious future but to still see where I am today. This becomes extremely difficult with exams coming up, moving out of one place and moving into another. But, I am encouraged through this synthesis to see the options I have to interact, to be intentional and mindful of the people around me; not because it’s the “right” thing to do but because I am commanded to live in this World and not be of this world.
Why are you running?
Where are you running?
What hurdle is in your way?
Where are your feet?