Tuesday, October 30, 2012

A Different Pair of Running Shoes

               A very dear lady friend of mine and bible study teacher one said that we need to “stay in our own lanes,”-easily said, not so easily done.  Way back when, many, many moons ago- I used to run track. (Middle School days) Our coach was always telling us to stay in our own lanes. We were each assigned a lane at the beginning of the race and if you wandered off into the lane next to you, disaster happened. Not only would I collide with the other person running beside me, but I would get penalized by the referees as well. It was just not smart to wander into some else’s lane. The same goes for us as Christians. It is dangerous for us to wander into some else’s lane. But how do we know when we have? The Lord Jesus shows us in John 21:20-22.
                “Then Peter, turning around, saw the disciple whom Jesus loved following, 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
                Jesus had spoken to Peter about his betrayal on that fateful night. Jesus has also just informed Peter that the road ahead for him is going to be hard and that Peter is going to die a very harsh death. Peter, probably still stinging a bit after being chastised and then forgiven for his betrayal of Jesus sees John, the one who leaned upon the breast of Jesus at dinner, John, the “perfect one” who never did anything wrong but always had a strong relationship with Jesus walking behind them. John had asked Jesus at the last supper who was going to betray Jesus, and Peter remembered that John was the one who spoke that. Peter was convicted by the innocent words John spoke that night. This upset Peter and he reacted with “what about John, Lord? What is going to happen to him?”
                Jesus tells Peter to “stay in his own lane.” I was touched by this scene in the scriptures today because I can so relate to Peter on so many different levels. I have a tendency to wander out of my lane and into the lane of others. I begin to wonder about the other person, and why they are not going through what I am going through, or begin to look at their walks and wonder why they cannot be more like me, or think more like me. I am an “all in” kinda person- much like Peter. I dive in head first and think about the consequences later, just like Peter. But John, he was a different type of person; he was more reserved in his thinking, more of a “think about it, ponder on it then act” kind of personality. That, unfortunately, has never been me. But the Lord loves me just the way I am and can use me just as well as He can use anyone else He chooses.
                None of us are the same, we are all created differently. The masterpiece that the Lord is painting in my life will never be the same as the person running next to me. We may be running the same race, but we are all wearing different shoes! I have been struggling with an issue lately, which brought me to this scripture this morning. I know the Lord wants me to serve Him body, soul and spirit, with my entire mind, heart and all my strength, and I desire that as well. However, there are days where I look at the lack of servants in the various ministries we have at our church body and ask why the heck are more people not stepping up? What does this have to do with the scripture the Lord gave me? Everything- it has everything to do with it. Bear with me as I try to explain what the Lord is teaching me.
                We do not know what is going on in the lives of others. We may know some of the trials, troubles, ups and downs they are facing, but we do not know the heart- only Jesus knows the hearts of His people. When I start to grumble and complain about others not stepping up, I am starting to wander from my own lane and I am beginning to cross over into the lanes of the people running beside me. This is a disaster waiting to happen. Paul urges us to “work out our own salvation in fear and trembling”. (Phil. 2:12) I am in my lane, given to me by God to do the work that He has chosen me to do, that He has prepared for me to do. What is it any business of mine what is happening or not happening in the lives of those running beside me? Jesus told Peter to follow Him. Jesus is telling me to follow Him, not to look around me at the others running and try to figure out what kind of race they are running, but to stick to my lane and keep running the marathon that I have been given. So what if others are not serving, so what if others have pink running shoes and I have blue, so what if they do not have the same desire to serve the Lord as I do- that is between me and Jesus, and them and Jesus. He gave us the shoes!
                I was convicted when I realized how quickly I had drifted into the lanes around me. My grumbling and complaining about others just got me a penalty and may have caused an even greater collision, had I not been flagged by the One True Ref- God my Father! Jon Courson writes in his New Testament Commentary in regards to John 21:22, about Peter, “It seems like he’s got it made in the shade, this one who leaned on Your breast at the table, this one who’s so close to Your heart, Peter must have thought concerning John. Do you ever look at a person, a couple, a family, and say, “They’ve got it made? It’s not fair?” …..Jesus didn’t say to Peter, “You’re asking about John? Let me tell you about him….” No, Jesus simply said, “If I will that John lives until I come back, what does it matter to you? You, Peter, follow me. Period.” You will have a temptation at some time or another to look at someone else and say, “Poor me. I’m being crucified while he’s cruising.” Because you won’t understand what battles the person you envy is presently fighting or will be facing.”
                We may be pouring out our lives right now upon the altar of “living sacrifice” while others are just sitting at the feet of Jesus, or we may be looking at the life of another believer and asking why their life is so easy when ours seems so hard. In the end, we need to heed the words of our beloved Savior- “what is it to you? You follow me. Period.” We need to keep our eyes on our own race and stop looking around at the ones racing beside us. We need to be like the horse getting ready to run the Kentucky Derby and put our blinders on to run the race that is set before us.
                When we start to look at the lives of others and say to ourselves, “why me?” or “What about them, Lord?” We will begin to drift into their lanes and will draw a flag and could be the cause a great collision. We are to follow Jesus, just me and Him, you and Him, period.  We do not follow Him for any other purpose than to have a personal, one on one relationship with Him. What is it to us what the other person is doing? We are to follow Jesus in the shoes He has given us.
                May the Lord Jesus, forgive me for wandering into the lanes of others. My  prayer today is that He would put my blinders on, so that I may run the race that He has set before me, that I may finish well and hear “Well done my good and faithful servant, enter into the joy of the Lord.” I pray that You, Lord Jesus, my True Referee,  would throw your flag of grace when I start to wander and to look at those around me, remind me to keep my eyes on You only, and that no matter what happens, you love me for me and you love the person running beside me for who they are. For truly, what is it any business of mine if they are wearing different shoes?