Saturday, April 18, 2009

Eyes On the Goal

I got up this morning to beautiful azure skies with wispy white clouds and knew I should go for my walk. It was still a bit chilly, in fact there was still frost in some places. But I pulled out my heavier coat, turned on my MP3 player and headed out.

My usual walk is a 2.1 mile route that includes two good (steep) hills, one in the first half of the walk and the second one in the second half. Normally, when I do my walk on weekdays at the end of a full day at work, I'm a little tired so I choose to turn off the second hill about half way up and continue on through the neighborhood. But, once I am back in shape after doing a less rigorous winter walking schedule, I like to try to go all the way to the top of this hill, especially on the weekends when I'm out walking first thing in the morning.

This morning I was so invigorated by the brisk air and as I approached the turn that would bring me to the second hill, I decided that I was going to take it all the way to the top. Sounded really good as I started up, but after going a little way, I thought that maybe I should give myself one more week of walking before doing that. No! Keep going. But then as I got closer to the side street where I could turn off the hill, my eyes glanced in that direction. At that moment, it was like I heard a voice saying, "Don't look over there; that's not your goal. If you're aiming for the top, keep looking up there!"

In all honesty, walking to the top of the hill instead of turning off earlier wasn't that big a deal. It certainly felt good to have done it even though I was really out of breath. But the best thing about my walk this morning was that little lesson I heard...that reminder that if I'm ever going to accomplish a goal, I can't afford to be distracted. I can't listen to the voices- wherever they may come from-that encourage me to stop short, to take the easy way, to simply give up because it is hard. It's all about where I fix my eyes. And when my eyes are fixed on the goal, I won't even see those tempting shortcuts.

In this life, we will constantly be bombarded with messages that diminish and distract us from the goals in our lives. And some times, we will give in to them. But it feels so good when we stay strong, when we remain focused and achieve those things, large or small, that we set out to do.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Just Because You Can...

This weekend I was thinking of an adage that I try to adhere to. It goes like this, "Just because you can, doesn't mean you should."

Example 1: Just because you wear a size four and therefore can fit into all of the most trendy teenage clothes, doesn't mean you should (think 65 years old...or maybe just 56).

Example 2: Just because you can grow your hair long, doesn't mean you should (think long and stringy vs. short and stylish).

Example 3: Just because you can afford to spend $100,000 on your kid's first birthday party doesn't mean you should (think Hollywood).

Example 4: Just because you can dress up like Elvis and stand on the street corner and dance, doesn't mean you should (I kid you not, I saw it this weekend).

As I was ruminating over these examples, God brought to mind one of the lessons that we recently studied in our neighborhood Bible study. The lesson was on how the Holy Spirit leads each one of us personally and individually. We looked at Romans 14:16 where Paul explains how one man's faith allows him to do some things where another man's faith might limit his actions. The point was that just because one person can do something with a clear conscience, doesn't necessarily mean that he should do it (especially if it would cause another to stumble).

Simply put, we do not live in a vacuum, and as often as not, our actions impact others. So, sometimes it is helpful to run through the can/should sequence before we act.

So, if you are ever tempted to put on the old Elvis outfit and head to the nearest street corner, please, please remember that you really shouldn't!

Sunday, April 5, 2009

A Little Sunshine Goes a Long Way

It's amazing what a little sunshine can do for the soul when it has been cold and gray for too long! Today was a much needed blessing with its blue skies and warm temperatures! I felt a swelling of hope that has been missing in my daily life for some time.

Today was not only beautiful, but it was a reminder that spring and summer will come even after the most difficult of winters. Even the darkest days will give way to warmth and uplifting joy! So, even if this lovely spell of "gorgeousness" only lasts for a day or two, I'll use it as a reminder that more of the same is to come; that tonight's BBQ on the deck was only the first of many more for the season. And the warm breezes and the birds' songs that I heard today will break through again even if there are a few more gloomy days on the way.

God is good that way, He gives us the hope we need to keep going. Sometimes it comes in the form of a beautiful day, sometimes it's found in the embrace of a loving hug and other times it may simply be seen in a smile on the face of a passing stranger. Whatever the form, God's blessings are amazing. Just like today was!