“Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth” -Colossians 3:2
So the other day I went for a run. I put on my “Nothing But Asphalt” playlist and I was off! I was nearing the first tenth of a mile when the words, “set your mind on things above and not on earthly things” came to me almost like a gentle whisper. So I did what any runner would do, I looked up.
There above and before me were branches, many many branches just hanging over my head. It was beautiful!
I kept running.
My gaze remained steady on the top of the trees and I kept running. Before I knew it my Nike-App chimed and notifying me I had finished my first mile. Pumped about my accomplishment I turned around and headed back to the park. I had only gone 1/2 a mile in when I noticed a change to my gait (a drastic one). My strides were a lot longer and much faster! This was odd, I tended to keep a shorter stride and slower pace. I shrugged it off. I thought perhaps since I haven’t been running in a while maybe that was it.
That little “mental stop” distracted my focus. I was now staring at the pavement. My head was down, my shoulders were down, and my eyes stared at the ground. My Nike-App chimed one more time indicating I had now been running for two miles. Elated by my performance, I stopped to see what my time was (Now by this time I am used to seeing a negative-split pace. This means my second mile was finished at a faster pace than my first. This is actually a good indicator for runners, but this was not the case). My time showed that I had clocked a 9 min 25 sec on my first mile (this is my fastest pace to date!) and a 10 min 10 sec pace on my second mile.
That was odd…
According to the tracker I was running a 9 min, 15 second pace at the beginning of mile two, so what happened? Did I run into a snake? A pedestrian? Did I get a phone call? Did my music stop? What caused such a change? Again I shrugged it off and started up mile three. (And yes in case you were wondering this inner monologue happened in just seconds after I stopped at mile two). So I resumed my run, head up, shoulders up, chest upright, eyes up. It did not take long for me to notice how easy, light, and fast this third mile was turning out to be for me.
–And that’s when it hit me.
The change of pace was attributed to my focus. The 1st part of my run my eyes were looking up at the trees and sky. The 2nd part my eyes were looking at the ground. Somehow that lead to a slower heavier pace. And this is mile four (Colossians 3:2 echoing with every stride)…
What a metaphor for life! For faith!! I got distracted. When my mind was on thing above (in this case trees) I was focused on what was ahead of me. My gaze forward. It did not matter what else was going around me. My focus was on the sky and trees, and I trusted that my next stride would land in front of me solidly on the ground. My gait was lighter because as soon as one foot landed, the next was already on it’s next move. I didn’t have time to second guess myself, or think about taking the next stride. I kept my focus and kept going.
My eyes and mind were set above and not on earthly things.
When I decided to check my time, my focus changed direction. I now had my eyes on the ground. Distacted. I felt like I wasn’t advancing because my scenery was one constant slab of pavement. It looked the same. It was ordinary.
God is the metaphor for looking upward, setting my mind on things above. The actual run is a metaphor for living. The ground is a metaphor for the distractions in life. Keeping a mental and physical focus upward, postures your body more upright, allowing for a more enjoyable run. Keeping our focus upward on God, allows us to see situations more positively and postures our hearts to receive or release rather than to hold in. When we are focused on God, the troubles, stresses, and unknowns fade away. We are looking ahead. Distractions are taking place but we keep our eyes forward. Trusting in the One who holds us. Trusting in the One who loves us and knows us since before the earth was formed (i.e. Ephesians 1:4). The distractions do not weigh us down because we are too focused on Him, His word of truth, and His promises.
But when our gaze is down, we are not best equipped to make it very far. It’s a bigger struggle. Running wise, our bodies are not upright. Our shoulders grow tired because we are slouching. Droopy shoulders lead to poor posture, which leads to am aching back. Our eyes fixated on the ground lead to a bent body, decreasing the amount of oxygen our lungs take in, and our heart receives. We can still run, but it’s more exhausting.
Similarly, when our focus is on life’s distractions we wound up more anxious, troubled, and exhausted than when we started. Why? Because we are distracted and therefore spending all of our time and energy on that distraction. Rather than seeing our situation differently, we only see it one way. The more we continue to stare at it, the more it grows. We start to perceive it as a bleak heavy boulder obstructing our path. It’s too big for us to move. But if we change from a downward to an upward focus, then we will see the tools God has given us to remove the problem/boulder from our life.
If I just stare at the ground, my mind is fixated on one thing–the pavement. My mind grows tired of the ordinary, of the routine, of the mundane. But if I choose to look upward my view is more dynamic! I have multiple views. I can gaze at the trees, the clouds, the birds, the sun. The scenery changes constantly. Now this is a more enjoyable run!
(And that was mile four).
So whatever it is that you are dealing with in your life, I challenge you dear friend to look upward. Look to God. Look to the Scriptures. Let Him surprise you with the new outlook He will give you.
Always a pleasure to write to you. I hope you found what you are seeking.
In His love