A week or so ago I decided to take advantage of our amazing weather (80 degrees in April, really?!) and go for a walk. There is a High School Football and Track field that looked somewhat daunting; but nevertheless curiously beckoned me, so I pushed through the turnstile and set off around the track. As I began to walk, I noticed that lanes had been carefully created by strong white lines to contrast against the red clay. Each lane was given a number ranging from 1-8. Number one was closest to the field, while number eight was on the outer perimeter.
I imagined that if I was a runner I would want number 1, the inside track, because it seemed that tighter turns and less distractions would make it easier to cross the finish line first! The Christian life is likened to a race. But unlike an earthly footrace, we are not competing against anyone else to finish first. We are all in the “RACE” of life. Imagine we are all on a track, and each person has his/her own lane. Each lane is specifically marked with boundary lines so that you know the path that your specific lane takes as the road curves and changes. The person to the right of your lane and the person to your left are each in the race with you, as are the others on either side of them, etc. You have one focus, one goal: run the race, in your lane, learning and doing your specific purpose that is unique and specifically designed for you. That lane was made for YOU and YOU for the purpose in it.
Jesus emphasized the importance of keeping our eyes on Him instead of others as we make it down life’s path, a few days after His resurrection from the dead. On the shores of the Sea of Galilee that bright morning, Peter was just getting his footing back after his denial of the Lord, when he was reunited with and recommissioned by Jesus. As together, they began making their way down the beach, the text says:
“Then Peter, turning around, saw the disciple whom Jesus loved following, who also had leaned on His breast at the supper, and said, “Lord, who is the one who betrays You?” Peter, seeing him, said to Jesus, “But Lord, what about this man?”
Jesus said to him, “If I will that he remain till I come, what is that to you? You follow Me.” John 21:20-22
Peter was concerned about what John was going to do, but Jesus redirects Peter, by basically telling him: “leave the details of John’s life to Me, you, just focus on following Me, Peter.” It can be easy to get distracted by others as we set out to follow Jesus, especially if we are unclear as to what lane we are to run in. God has given each of us gifts, talents, abilities and even seeming disabilities that create a unique racetrack, perfectly marked out for us according to our Coach’s will.
We only create stumbling blocks and setbacks for ourselves and possibly others, when we try to run in someone else’s shoes. I can use myself as an example. As I have been working on expanding my business and writing, there have been quite a few tymes when I was looking at what someone else is doing, wondering what they are doing that I’m not, asking myself things like, ‘Why does it seem like it’s easier for them?’ or ‘Why does it seem like they reached success way more quickly than me?’ And when I do this, I start feeling discouraged, down and like I’ll never accomplish the things I want. And how could I not feel that way? I mean, that’s what happens when you stop focusing on your path and start focusing on someone else’s. You lose/give up our lane.
Paul tells us in 2 Corinthians 10:12 that those who compare themselves to others are unwise. And in the very next verse he elaborates with this statement:
I am a unique person with unique talents and gifts. It doesn’t matter if the man/woman beside me does the same thing I do because they can’t do it like it me– they are not me– I am me! Even if both of us do the same thing, we each bring our own flavor to the table. There’s enough room for both of us to do what we do, so there’s no need to feel like I need to change lanes. I need to stay where I am, focus on me and what I’m doing and concentrate on getting to my destination.
God designed sphere of influence. So, what has God called you to do? Where has He called you to go today? Who has He placed in your path? He is using you to impact those He has strategically placed around you in the arena of life. On that day, when you reach the finish line… You’ll see. When you are focused on your lane and doing what you do, you will begin to see that you actually are making strides, that great things are happening (slowly but surely), and you’ll be much happier about where your life is headed…Guaranteed.
When you begin to have feelings of jealousy, envy, coveting, INSECURITIES of any kind, you have crossed over into someone else’s lane. You are trying to do the purpose specifically designed for SOMEONE ELSE. STAY IN YOUR LANE! When you cross over into someone else’s lane, not only do you attempt a purpose that was NOT designed for you, but you also take your focus off the task that has been gifted specifically to YOU. And if YOU aren’t running the race in your lane (because you’re trying to be in someone else’s), there is NO ONE ELSE to run in your lane for you, so YOUR purpose and design isn’t being fulfilled and completed, because you’re wasting tyme trying to be someone else. STAY IN YOUR LANE!
Allow God to be the one to show you your pace, and how to deal with obstacles (be they distractions, literally something blocking your way, or a pot hole that catches you off guard) in the road when they appear. When we all stay in our respective lanes, we create a bigger picture of God’s purpose and plan and how it is designed to work together. When we don’t, we are trying to recreate a plan that we don’t have the blueprints for. But today, don’t trip by looking at someone who might appear to be running more swiftly or gracefully than you are. Stay in your lane by using all you have been given, with all your heart to build the Kingdom of God. And run for His glory by keeping your eyes on Jesus.-That’s the inside track!
“Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, 2 looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.” Hebrews 12:1-2