August 11, 2011

I ran cross country in high school and college.

Our coach at Murphy High in Mobile was the legendary Fred Carley. He was a SEC record holder in several events at Auburn back in the day. He was perhaps my first genuine sports hero. One of the lessons Coach taught us was to “run our own race. “ He said we didn’t need to concern ourselves with the other runners so much, just stay focused on what we needed to be doing.

That included pacing ourselves (typical cross country courses were two to five miles in length) and paying attention to proper running technique. The other runners weren’t out there to help us. They were our competition.

The way to beat them was to take care of our own business.

That lesson was brought home vividly for me one spring day on the 2.7 mile City –wide meet at Municipal Park. I had run a very good race and with 100 yards to go was positioned to come in 3rd. That would give Murphy a sweep of the first three places. I heard someone behind me making a hard move to pass. Turning to see who and where he was, I broke my stride, which allowed him to pass me. Afterwards, Coach Carley was kind but clear as he analyzed what happened. He told me that I allowed the other guy to distract me, taking my attention off my own finish. He said, “Keep your eye on the finish line.”

That principle is true in all of life, especially our spiritual lives. It’s so easy to be distracted by the drama going on around us: economic upheaval, troubled relationships and our personal struggles. When we take our eyes off the goal or the finish line, we set ourselves up for failure. (I Cor. 9:24-27) It’s as we learn to increasingly keep our eyes on the Lord, be occupied with Him, and focused on doing His will that we experience real victory in our walk with Him. (Prov. 3:5,6)

– Article contributed by Ken Sheppard, Director of Mentoring for the Master’s Men ministry.