Last week, my husband and I took advantage of the great weather and headed to the outdoor track to get some laps in before nightfall. We decided to take a brisk walk, chatting and laughing sporadically on this pseudo-date. Every now and then, I would feel his hand or forearm nudge me gently back into my lane as I would occasionally get so caught up in the conversation or a song pumping through my headphones that I would veer dangerously into his path.
“Baby,” he said, “you need to stay in your lane. You can really get hurt moving at this pace if you’re not more careful.”
Distractions to a purpose-driven life abound. Sometimes, we go looking for them (“Let me just watch a few more episodes on Netflix first”). Sometimes, they come and find us (i.e., when your girlfriend calls to vent about something trivial at just the moment you were about to do something important). And while there’s nothing inherently wrong with taking a break to watch a little television or being a good a friend, there is, in the words of my dad, a time and place for everything.
Coming off this Lenten Season, I want to continue my focus on “giving up” things that don’t mesh well with my Christian goals and “give in” to the Father’s will for my life. It feels like I made some progress in my 40 days, and I don’t just want to let all of that go to waste just because Easter Sunday is now behind me.
“This is like a second New Year,” I said to myself. “I can use the Resurrection as my kickstart into new phases in my life.”
With everything from committing to more intense workouts and drastic reductions in my sugar intake, I also want to push my stewardship consistently into the levels the Holy Spirit has revealed to me. I want to be more cognizant of how my thoughts and actions support or detract from my purpose. I don’t want to get lazy or fearful or distracted.
I’m reminded of Peter and the other disciples who after the crucifixion of Jesus and His subsequent Resurrection were fishing unsuccessfully at the Sea of Tiberias when, for the 3rd time, Jesus came to them. After helping them catch 153 fish and feeding them, Jesus questioned Peter about his love for Christ three times. Peter, answering in the affirmative, “Yea…thou knowest that I love thee,” received instructions from Jesus: feed my lambs and feed my sheep. Jesus then went on to tell Peter through analogy that He would suffer in his earthly journey in his obedience to Christ. Then Jesus instructed him to “Follow me.”
All of this was just further confirmation, though, of things I had heard or learned along the way. I know that truly and whole-heartedly following Christ makes living in this world more challenging. What really struck me about this last chapter of John was what happens next. After Jesus restores Peter after his triple denial of Christ during His arrest and trial, Peter turns around and asks Jesus, “Lord, and what shall this man do?” questioning Him about John.
At first read, I was disgusted with Peter: “Dude, Jesus just let you back in the fold! Are you kidding me?” Then, I realized how this scripture was an answered prayer for me as I have been pleading for the Lord to reveal my missteps in staying committed to God’s will and purpose for my life.
“How many times,” God asked, “have I given you directions, and you looked elsewhere and questioned Me about something or someone that is clearly none of your business?” He continued, “How many times will I need to push you back into your lane to do the work I told you to do?” And this last one, “How long will you allow yourself to be distracted from My will for you?”
Smugness and judgmental attitude abated, I humble myself enough to own similarity with Peter. Jesus’ last words to Peter in this gospel were “Follow thou me.” And I hear Him saying to me, “I gave you work to do. You need to do it! Don’t worry about anybody or anything else.”
Pray my strength in the Lord as I try to stay in my lane, mind my business, and do what my Father told me to do.