There’s a time for causal running
A time when conversation can occur even while we run
A time when we stop to smell the roses or pet a dog
Or converse with a person
A time when we notice the new house
A time when we wonder what happened to the old
A time when we take in the surroundings of each step of the run
But there are other times
When our mind is fixed on the finish
When our legs, our arms, our eyes, our hearts are in training
A time when we barely notice the sights we run past
Or the noises that would normally distract us
The only thing we see is the road in front of us
Our thoughts are always brought back to the task at hand
Faces and situations and life drift into our mind
An idea, something we need to do or something we forgot
But discipline calls us out of the dream and back on the street
And we run
We run past great places to pause
Wonderful places to sit and think
Small coffee shops we will, on another day, enjoy
But not today
Today we run without interruption:mental or physical
Today we focus
Today we train
“Elisha said to Gehazi, ‘Tuck your cloak into your belt, take my staff in your hand and run. If you meet anyone, do not greet him, and if anyone greets you, do not answer.
Lay my staff on the boy’s face.’”
(2 Kings 4:29)
Just a thought…
My wife and I volunteer every Thursday to work alongside an amazing group of leaders and teachers at an afterschool program in the city. The program seeks to reach into one of the most under-resourced neighborhoods of Chicago and help kids experience the love of God and the abundant life He offers in Christ.
One of my favorite people there is a young man named Pete. (Not his real name.) Pete is an elementary student who has already experienced more pain than almost anyone I know. His mother died last year. His father is in prison. He lives, along with his brother, with extended family who open their homes. His address changes often. For the most part, he is raising his younger brother. He tries hard, but often the anguish and anger overcome him. Since I’m the on-call chaplain when I’m there, Pete and I have gotten to know each other pretty well.
One night we were discussing the challenges he faces and how he can avoid being distracted by the taunts and threats of others that often lead to fights. The conclusion he reached was amazing and powerful. Through tears and anger he said, “I’ve got to take care of my brother. I’ve just got more important things to do that get all messed up with this drama.” Pretty profound don’t you think; “I’ve got more important things to do.” When I see him now, he makes muscles with his arms, smiles, and we say it together, “I’ve got more important things to do.”
Every Thursday night this past winter, as we boarded our van to head back to the suburbs, I watched Pete and his little brother disappear down the sidewalk. They walked home in the dark in a neighborhood most of us would be hesitant to even drive through. I pray for him often that his smile remains and is focus stays intact.
Today as you run consider what distractions are tempting you to turn aside from what is important and focus on the drama, which isn’t. At the end of the day, we’ve all got more important things to do.
The difference between good athletes and great athletes; between good athletic teams and great athletic teams is often found, not in the talent they have, but in their focus. Great teams approach practice with a purpose and a goal. Good teams find it enough just to go through the motions and get it over with. When the day is done they can say they practiced, they can say they ran. Great athletes soak every ounce of performance they can out of their training, and it is the well they drink from in the last ¼ mile of the race.
Help me to focus my physical and my spiritual energy today and train. Speak to me about the issues in my life that stand in the way of my walk with you. Illuminate those areas where I have not surrendered all and am holding back. Help me to focus. Help me to learn. Help me to train. Help my focus to be on you. And, please help Brian’s friend Pete.
“The woods are lovely, dark and deep, but I have promises to keep
and miles to go before I sleep, and miles to go before I sleep.”
- Robert Frost
 Robert Frost: Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening