Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. (Hebrews 12: 1,2)
When peace like a river attendeth my way
When sorrows like sea billows roll
Whatever my lot, Thou hast taught me to say
It is well, it is well with my soul
It is well (it is well)
With my soul (with my soul)
It is well, it is well with my soul
(“It Is Well with My Soul” was composed by Philip Paul Bliss, with the lyrics by Horatio G. Spafford)
When one of my two kids (no, I’m not telling which one), was in elementary school, they ran on the school cross-country team. This kid was a solidly ‘middle to the end of the pack’ runner. There were no medals to be had in the Gardiner household for prowess in cross-country running. Regardless, like a good and diligent parent, I went to as many cross-country meets I could and cheered the whole team on despite the lack of particular skill in this area. One meet, as my kid was coming in for the finish line, and I was cheering like they had just won the Olympics, I noticed something really interesting. As my kid was running along, their head was swiveling around to check out the location of every other runner in meet. And as they continued to check out the other runners, they fell further and further behind them; the act of checking their place against the other runners meant that their own pace would slow down, they lost focus and lost ground at the same time.
I, of course, pointed this out to my kid; who, of course had no idea what I was talking about. The ‘checking’ of their position against the others who were running was completely unconscious and so the consequences of it were also completely unrecognized. But I’ve thought about it a lot since I noticed, and I’ve thought about how its totally a metaphor for life, eh! We spend a lot of time swivelling our eyes around, checking our position against the people around us, and as a result, lose our own ground in the cross-country run of our life.
Ok. Now that I’ve beaten that metaphor to death, I’ll get to my point.
This week I’ve watched with increasing dismay, the protest in Ottawa that seems to be getting uglier and uglier. I’m all over peaceful protest and believe strongly in our rights to object to things that are public policy. But I can’t support a protest that stomps on the safety and security of vast swaths of our Nations Capital. But I also know that my opinion is not going to really be heard in this situation. At the same time, we have had to deal with some pretty intense weather fluctuations that clearly are an indication of climate change and the need to consider quite seriously the impact of our consumerist and colonizing society has had. And, of course, Covid still looms.
And as these things have converged, I’ve felt this sense of despair and helplessness. A despair and helplessness that I know is shared by many of you. Many of you have told me this week that you just feel ‘blah’. You feel isolated; unmotivated; like time is passing you by. Several of you have talked about not doing ‘anything’ but also not feeling like you ‘could’ do anything. Despair seems to have seeped out and is oozing over us all.
I think that the antidote to this is to stop swiveling our heads around to find out where our position is in this race. Because we’re just losing ground. And if we keep going on we’ll be tripped up enough that we’ll feel the need to drop out of it all because we’re ‘losing’ anyway.
So, instead – taking a cue from our faith stories; join me in ‘fixing your eyes on Jesus’ – not on the stuff around us. Our churchy word for the ‘stuff around us that trips us up’ is ‘sin’. I don’t use the word ‘sin’ very much because I think its much more than morality and much more that right or wrong. It’s a way of being that is the antithesis to the ‘author and perfector of our faith’ and ourselves. So instead of fixing our eyes on the truckers, or climate change, or Covid – we need to run with our eyes fixed on God. God who cares about protests, and rights, and viruses and responsible stewardship of our world, but also the God who reminds us of Hope and Truth and Good as our goals; not these things that are threatening to take over.
I think if we do that, then that’s when we can sing the old hymn saying that “whatever my lot thou hast taught me to say, it is well with my soul”.
Because, at the end of the day – God’s got this. We ARE called to run a race that is shows integrity, concern and honesty, but we don’t need to swivel our heads around and check out the things that are gonna trip us up. They’ll still be there – running along with us; but they don’t need to cause us to lose the ground or the momentum that we have.
Blessings today and Remember you are Loved.