As a former competitive runner, I’ve been to my fair share of track meets. I’ve seen every event imaginable and have participated in several of them. One event, though, I was never brave enough to try: the hurdles. Even as I think about it now, I’m amazed at the athleticism of those who not only clear the hurdles, but do so at impressive speeds.
Imagine sitting at a track meet waiting for the hurdlers to race. You watched the runners line up, held your breath as the starting gun was fired, and cheered as the race began. With the scene set in your mind, picture one of the runners approaching the first hurdle, slowing down, and then falling to the ground before even attempting the jump. You’re close enough to hear the runner complain like a toddler, “This thing is in my way.” Continuing to pout, he doesn’t move from the track as he whines, “Who put these here? I was trying to win a race.”
It sounds ludicrous, doesn’t it? Everyone knows that hurdles don’t prevent the race; they’re part of the race. Yet so often we are like the runner who is shocked by the obvious. Life is full of challenges, everything doesn’t go our way, and difficult circumstances are inevitable. We are tempted to view these difficulties as preventing us from knowing, loving, and following God rather than as part of what it means to know, love, and follow God.
As Sara Hagerty tweeted, “If knowing Him more intimately is my end goal, there’s not one single thing I will face today that can’t serve to draw me into this.” In reality, the obstacles of life are opportunities to cultivate the one relationship that matters most of all (Philippians 3:8). A runner with an accurate perspective sees hurdles as checkpoints – each one an indicator of his growing nearness to the finish line. Likewise, a Christian with an accurate perspective sees hardships in the same way. They are a normal part of the race, and each one draws him a little closer to the Prize.
We serve a God who is both willing and able to take the terrible circumstances of life and use them for our good and His glory (Genesis 50:20). When we view life through this lens, what once looked like an obstacle starts to look like an opportunity.