A few years ago, I watched my youngest daughter run her first event at the primary school athletics carnival. At the time, she wasn't too fussed by her finishing place. I don't even think she was fully aware of what it meant to 'sprint'! When the starter's gun went off, all the parents cheered from the sidelines as their children ran their hearts out towards the finishing line. It was cute to watch their little arms and legs flying everywhere. Some kids knew what it meant to run fast! Other kids took their time. Then there was my daughter - looking around at everyone else and flicking her ponytail out of the way as she ran. She was completely oblivious of what it was all about, and had a huge grin on her face the whole time. She quite enjoyed herself - but she ran slow because she was too focused on what everyone else was doing around her.
Lately God's been encouraging me to 'focus on my lane' - to run the race He has set before me, and not be distracted by what's in the next person's 'lane'.
At the start of any race, an athlete zeroes in on the lane in front of them. They fix their eyes on something in the distance, and focus on that very point as they run. This helps them stay in their lane and run their own race. If they turn their head to see what other athletes are doing, a number of things happen: they become distracted, they slow down, and they are no longer running the race they prepared for.
The same thing happens in our lives. When we focus on what we see in other's lives, we become distracted (discouraged), and we're no longer focused on what God has prepared for us.
God has a unique path for each of us - sometimes it might be long and arduous, when prayers go unanswered, or things don't quite work out how we'd like. Other times, it might be full of abundance. Lately, I've been caught up at looking at other's paths, rather than focusing on what God has set before me. Some days it feels like a real slow journey compared to what others are doing. But then God gently reminds me that this is all part of His plan for me. The path He chose for me looks different to the one He has for my neighbours, my friends, and you.
We are each called to run with endurance - with stamina, to not give up - even when it feels like we're going nowhere. Even when it feels like God isn't there, or our prayers bounce back unanswered. Whether we're feeling stuck, despondent, or in a season of waiting, it's comforting to know that God already knows our path. Keep your eyes fixed on Him, and don't allow the noise around you be a distraction from the plan He has for your life.