Let Nothing Stop You, but Mind the Detour Signs
Today, I am pushing off with enough force to get me to the finish but not so much momentum I miss the sign that says, “turn here.”
That was my Facebook status yesterday. I did quite a bit of turning. Have a whole list of “DNF’s,” but the day seemed to end on a pitch-perfect note when a kid leaving the field at the end of my fitness session frowned at his mom and said, “Why do I have to leave?” I would never have considered that moment as my day’s intended finish, but it seemed fitting and I thanked God for it.
Sometimes I envy people who have those jobs where you just show up and they give you a task and you do it and then come back for the next task. I wouldn’t last long in a job like that, but I can daydream. No, I need autonomy. Freedom. Room to spread my wings.
Right. And when I have all these things, I complain that I have too much to do or don’t know which thing to do first or which I should do and which are for someone else. I can even cloak this in Christian language. I’ll say I am praying, “What is God’s will for me?” Do I really expect God to bless me with a clear picture of His perfect direction? Start to finish.
I’m not sure God works like that. In fact, I think that may be the Other guy getting the best of me while I am calling it God.
The American way – perhaps the world’s way – celebrates the self driven man or woman. The, I won’t let anything stop me, person. I see where I am headed and, come hell or high water, that’s where I am gonna finish. Well, I can celebrate that dedication and fortitude. I’m just not sure it’s all that healthy. Investing so much in trying to guarantee your own outcome. Because I don’t think God is in the stopping business. He doesn’t stand in my way when I have made up my mind to go full steam ahead.
I do think He holds up that “detour” sign. The “turn here” for fresh produce placard. And if I’m barreling ahead toward my destination, especially when I’m on a deadline or running late and in a rush, I don’t even see that sign.
God does expect maximal effort from me. of this I am certain. But I see it as more of a swim race, a highly competitive, medals will be awarded to the top finishers kind of race. I shove off the wall, full throttle, compelling the muscles in my arms, legs and torso to churn that water and force it behind me. But I’m not meant to hold my breath the whole way. In fact, if it’s a longer race, I’m meant to establish a rhythm between stroking and breathing. Effort and air. Full speed ahead but with the slightest of interruptions to refill my lungs and check my position – not with regard to my competitors – but with the wall, the flags, the lap count. Those things that define the race and my position in it. Peeking at competitors will just slow me down.
There is something about that rhythm, stroke: breathe. stroke:breathe, that seems very right. Maximal effort, race distance and finish line defined, even stroke and turn judges in place to be sure things are competed fairly by all competitors. We’re meant to train, suit up and mount the starting blocks. But the race itself is about rhythm and timing and all out effort. With our eyes open.
Which, we did in the old days, even without goggles. A little bit of chlorine will do you good.