One day last week, while we were still on vacation, Jon and I got up early to go for a run on the beach. He’s still recovering from a stress fracture so my speed and distance suited him just fine. So off we went. Barefoot. In the sand.
Here’s what I know about running on the beach. It. Is. Hard. My calves hurt for three days.
But there was something else I noticed, too. On the sand, you leave an unmistakable set of footprints. Your stride length and how you orient your toes are obvious. And in the wet sand, the impressions are deep. That morning, there were a few spots where, because of the way the sand banked and the how the tide was coming in, I was forced to run in Jon’s tracks. It was nearly impossible. He takes two steps to my three or three and a half. His foot is bigger. He turns his feet out more. It was awful. I had to slow down even more, and watch my feet to keep from stumbling or turning an ankle. I did much better when I could make my own tracks.
I think we run into to similar problems in our Christian race when we try to run in another believer’s tracks. This doesn’t mean we shouldn’t have mentors, or examples, because we absolutely should. However, we also need to recognize and remember that God calls us as individuals, each with a unique role to play in His kingdom work.
In the last chapter of John’s gospel, Peter has a brief but intense conversation with Jesus about his future. Jesus doesn’t soften the details, but Peter is still committed. In verses 20-21 though, “Peter, turning around, saw the disciple whom Jesus loved following them … So Peter seeing him said to Jesus, “Lord, and what about this man?”
See, even when we have a clear idea of our purpose, our mission, our calling, it’s easy to look around, see how someone else is running and begin to question things. Maybe I should be doing what they’re doing. Maybe their tracks are the right tracks. Maybe I should be running in their tracks. It’s especially tempting if someone else has more perceived success than we do.
However, Jesus said in verse 22 “If I want him to remain until I come, what is that to you? You follow Me!”
Don’t worry about John. Just be Peter, and do what I have for you to do. In a way, Jesus said, “Run in your own tracks.”
Where is your race taking you? Is it tempting to slide over into another set of tracks?