I like to run. Let me rephrase that statement; I like to run when I know that I am near the end of my trail. I feel so good when my run is over and done. It’s great stress relief for me; I learned that back when Holt Rowland started high school. Stress from life, changes in the workplace, and just this world got the best of me one day. I felt so bombarded with anxious feelings that I told Dave that I needed to get out of the house for a while late one afternoon. I drove to the track, got out, and just ran around the circle until I knew I had run a mile without stopping. Out of breath, my heart racing, I actually felt better once I realized that I wasn’t going to have a heart attack! Knowing that I had gotten rid of some of the stress that was building up inside my body helped me cope with the things that I had no control over. The next afternoon, I did the same thing. I made myself go a little farther each time until I could build up my stamina. Now running is something I try do regularly to keep my head clear and my body less stressed.
While I am running, where I focus my eyes is very important for me. Instead of looking way ahead at end of my destination, I have to keep my focus nearby. If I focus on how far I have to go to get to the end, I will become discouraged and want to stop, so I watch the pavement right where my feet are going to be placed, step by step. Sure, I look up quite often to check for cars and loud-mouthed dogs trying to nip at my ankles, but for the most part, my focus is narrow and sharp. I watch for obstacles in the road that could make me stumble. I watch for uneven areas on the ground. I watch to ensure that I am headed in the right direction.
Last week, I had the chance to spend a few days at the beach with my parents. I decided a run on the beach would be a great way to start my day. It was already a hot morning when I grabbed my Ipod and headed out. As I ran with the wind behind me, it was hot and miserable. When I looked ahead, the end of my destination seemed so far away. I kept telling myself, “Don’t look ahead; just keep focusing on putting one foot in front of the other.” With each step, I watched the shoe prints that were already in the sand from the early morning runners and walkers that beat me out. With each stride, my head looking down and eyes focused, I concentrated on taking one step at a time rather than focusing one the long miles of beach that lay ahead. By the time I ran for twenty minutes in one direction, I decided to turn around to run back toward where we were staying. In the distance our tall condo seemed so far away. “Don’t focus on the distance,” I told myself. “Just keep watching as you put one foot in front on the other, one step at a time.”
Running back, the wind was in my face, and it felt great. I was still hot and sweating, but the relief from the cool breeze sure made it better. I noticed again all the footprints in the sand that had traveled the beach that morning. Some of those prints were my own as I was now going back the opposite direction. As I ran and thought through all the things in life that cause worry, God, in His goodness, brought this revelation to my mind.
My focus often times is in the wrong place. Too many times I look at where I want to go in the distance and lose sight of the one step at a time that it takes to get there. For me, focusing on a single step can feel like I am going nowhere, but God reminded me that it takes each step being taken in the right direction to get to where you want to go in the end. Every day, choosing to obey and be faithful to what God has called me to do that day, each step of the way, gets me where He wants me to be in the end.
As I ran and stayed faithful to my course that morning, our condo got closer and closer, finally the end of my destination was in sight. I was happy because I knew the pain was about to end, and I could enjoy the feeling of accomplishment that I had finished my race. Life is a lot like that to me. It is a balancing act of our focus. The Bible tells us, “not to focus on the things of this world, but to set our minds and our hearts on heavenly things.”-Colossians 3 Society tells us the opposite. If I am not careful to watch every step I am about to take, my path will go off course, and I won’t end up where I want to be. If I let my sight linger on things of this world to the left or to the right too long, I am going to veer that direction, without even realizing I have diverted from the original path. Without careful attention, I could begin to follow a set of prints that are headed in the wrong direction. My focus, like my path, must stay narrow and sharp to keep out all the distractions that could hinder me reaching where God wants me to be in the end.
I am really trying to apply these lessons in my life and the prayers I have for “The Holt Rowland Foundation.” We believe that God has called us to have a ministry that reaches from Blackshear to the Dominican Republic. This undertaking is no easy task! I want to reach it, this great destination, but it appears to be so far in the distance ahead that I often get discouraged and want to give up trying. I wonder, “How in the world will we ever make it a reality?” In the past year, I have felt many times like we were going nowhere with our purpose. We even tried following the footprints of others that might know a faster way, but that only led us back to where we started. It’s no secret I have been discouraged at times throughout this journey, but I am confident that God is reminding me, “Don’t worry about the destination in the distance. Just focus on Jesus and keep putting one foot in front of the other. If you will do that, I promise, I am going to lead you every step of the way.” Thank you, Lord, for the reminder.