This morning I had to drive an hour from Bluefield for an appointment, and several times during the trip I caught myself drifting into the lane beside me. I realized that when I’m driving down busy interstates, I often pay a dangerous amount of attention to the drivers beside me. Being attentive to my surroundings is necessary, but it’s entirely possible to be so aware of what’s going on beside me that I don’t notice what’s happening right in front of me.
The problem is worst when I’m next to a large truck on windy sections of I-77 or when I drive through a tunnel. When a truck seems uncomfortably close, my hands tighten around the steering wheel and my eyes lock on the lane line. What starts out as a simple observation turns into an obsession as my peripheral vision strains to make sure I’ll avoid a collision. Ironically, though, my steering starts to follow my vision, and I’m the one who ends up veering toward the truck. Either that or I have to slam on my brakes because I was too distracted to notice the driver ahead of me.
My driving habits caused me to think about a similar tendency off the road. The writer of Hebrews said we should “run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith” (Hebrews 12:1-2). I’m called to stay the course, put one foot in front of the other, and keep my eyes on Jesus.
Too often, though, I try to run the race with my eyes on the people next to me. I become so aware of their gifts, their callings, and their spheres of influence that I blind myself from seeing the One who goes before me. I can’t fix my eyes on Him if I’m constantly looking at them.
Like on the road, attentiveness in life is important. As we take note of those around us, we should cheer them on and be grateful for camaraderie along the course. But if our observations turn into obsessions, celebration quickly becomes coveting and we view our companions as competitors.
The alternative is to heed the exhortation to run while “looking to Jesus.” Christine Caine hit the nail on the head when she wrote:
“The inability to celebrate what God is doing in and through someone else simply reveals a profound sense of fear, insecurity, and lack of trust in a big, gracious, faithful, and loving God. If you are in your lane running your race and another person is in their lane running their race, then there is no possible way that the success of one can diminish the effectiveness of another. It is God who calls us, and He is good, and He does good.”
My experience on the road this morning reminded me that in life, our feet follow our eyes. We move toward what we behold. If we gaze on those around us, a collision is imminent; but if we fix our eyes on Jesus, we’ll recognize the incomparable joy of running with them toward Him.