Isn’t it funny how God can use something from our everyday lives to show us something deeper about ourselves? I recently started jogging again for the first time in a long time, and in addition to learning some basic lessons about my physical self (For example, I was really out of shape!), I also learned a valuable lesson about appreciating the role of process in our lives.
To start, my goal was simple. I mapped out a two-mile path and knew approximately where the halfway point was. As I worked to build stamina, I set goals along the way. For example, I needed to make it to a specific sign post by the end of a song on my playlist or needed to reach the halfway point before slowing down to catch my breath. Whatever the goal was, I focused on that marker in my mind.
The problem with this, though, was that as I focused on the goal in my mind, my legs would jog faster toward it. Doesn’t sound like a problem, right? Normally it wouldn’t be, but I hadn’t yet worked up the stamina to sustain my pace. As a result, I’d be worn out before reaching my goal (Yay for side stitches, am I right?) and then discouraged about failing to hit it.
After this happened a couple times, the realization came that it is so easy to do this with our life goals too. How often do we see where we need, want, or believe we should be and run full speed ahead toward it? Please don’t misunderstand, passion is necessary and so important. What I’m talking about here, though, is hitting the ground running without stopping to measure what preparation is necessary to reach the goal.
In Luke 14, Jesus speaks about the cost of discipleship, saying:
“Whoever does not carry his own cross and come after Me cannot be My disciple. For which one of you, when he wants to build a tower, does not first sit down and calculate the cost to see if he has enough to complete it? Otherwise, when he has laid a foundation and is not able to finish, all who observe it begin to ridicule him, saying, ‘This man began to build and was not able to finish.'” – Luke 14:27-30 (NASB)
Whether it’s America’s instant gratification culture or just human impatience, it’s hard to pace ourselves when we can see the goal in front of us. What we miss when we see only the goal and not the process, however, is every step in between where we are and where God is taking us that so wonderfully weaves together into the story of our lives. No time is wasted when it is spent drawing closer to God and trusting Him with your life, your goals, and your dreams. We need that time to count the cost of following Him and to build the strength and stamina necessary to not only meet the goal ahead, but then to also effectively steward the result of reaching that goal.
As you keep working to build stamina and strength for whatever it is God has called you to do, trust that no time is wasted in the process as you commit yourself to Him. God knows what He created you for, and He knows what it’s going to take for you to effectively reach the people you have been called to minister to. Yes, keep the goal in mind and run toward it, but focus first and foremost on your Creator. He will guide you along a path you don’t even know you need in order to accomplish your calling with a strength otherwise impossible.
Here’s to the journey!