By Toni Ford
This week, we will have 375 students participating in “Expedition,” our annual obstacle race in Cullman. Leading up to the race over the past couple of weeks, one could hear multiple conversations among students consisting of anything from fear, anticipation of the unknowns, enthusiasm and all the way up to great excitement. The students are placed on teams, and how well the teams work together determines how well they do in the race.
This race develops charac ter and grit within these students and teaches them how to work together as a team. Of course, when they begin the race, they all have one goal in mind – to win. Often times, however, that goal changes midway through the race, either for the individual or the team as a whole, and the goal becomes to simply finish.
One of the greatest challenges for the students before and during the race is keeping focused on the end goal and not on all the distractions, feelings, and thoughts that come along their path prior to or while running the race. We as believers face this same challenge today when walking out our day to day life with Jesus.
There is a story called “The Secret of the Third Prince” that describes this concept extremely well. The story tells of a king who issued a challenge to the princes of a neighboring land that whoever among them could walk in a straight line over a long journey of varying landscapes to the king’s castle would have the right to ask for his daughter’s hand in marriage.
As the story goes, the first prince embarked on the journey, working hard to not veer off the path and keep a straight line. Despite his best efforts, the farther the prince journeyed, the more off course he veered. The second prince determined to look down and make sure that every footstep followed in the same path as the footstep before it. But he, too, ended badly off course.
But the third prince looked neither to the right nor the left, nor down at his footsteps. Yet, at the end of the journey, it was determined that he had walked in a straight line.
No one could figure out how the third prince did it. So, he told them his secret: “All I did was look into the far distance to the light on the crown of the castle tower. I did not look at my path or the landscape to my right and left. I just kept my eyes on that light and kept pressing forward to that light until I arrived.”
This said that the teacher is the secret to your walk in God. We are all called to walk a straight path in God. But how does one do that over the course of a lifetime and over a long journey of varying landscapes and changing circumstances? “Not by focusing on your circumstances or even on your own walk. Rather, you fix your eyes on your destination, despite your surroundings, despite the mountains and valleys, despite the highs and the lows, despite even your own walk and footsteps. You fix your eyes on the Eternal, on Him and you press forward, always onward and closer to that goal and you will end up there and straight will be your footprints in the sand.”
Hebrews 12:1-2 says, “Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us. We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith. Because of the joy awaiting him, he endured the cross, disregarding its shame. Now he is seated in the place of honor beside God’s throne.”
Psalm 25:15 says, “My eyes are always on the Lord, for he rescues me from the traps of my enemies.”
Dear Father, please help me today and every day, to fix my eyes on the Eternal, You alone, my Lord. Thank you for going before me and for your protection over me as I run this race of life with You!