About two weeks ago, I actually finished before my daughter in a 5K race. That was a first. I crossed the finish line to my husband saying “Good job. You even beat Laura Anne.”
I digested that information and began thinking. Wait. That can’t be right. She had taken off at the beginning and was way in front of me, so far ahead that I couldn’t see her, and I know that I never passed her. My husband had been standing at the finish line for quite a while and hadn’t seen her, so I knew something was wrong. We began inquiring, and received confirmation from the timing company that she had not crossed the finish line. That meant that she was lost.
There were two other races going on at the same time – a one mile fun run and a half-marathon. My fear was that she had somehow gotten on the half-marathon course and was miles away somewhere. We were at a sports complex that linked in with a state park. All I knew is that my baby was lost somewhere out in the woods, and I had no idea where.
It took about 30 minutes for us to locate her. We had the race officials radio around the course to be on the lookout for the twelve-year-old girl with the blue streak in her hair. Finally, a female worker found her and put her on the right path. Laura Anne finished the race in 57 minutes, when it usually takes her about 25.
What seemed like the only reasonable path…
She had somehow missed a turn at the end that would have taken her to the finish line. Instead, she had gone straight and unknowingly looped back around to the beginning of the 5K course, where the fun run was then being held. She ran almost the entire 5K course a second time, and started on a third time. She said she knew that it was a bad sign when she kept coming to the 1-mile sign, but she couldn’t figure out where to go. I was trying to figure out how she had missed that turn at the end. Was she following someone? Did someone tell her to go that way? Her reply was that the path she took seemed like the only reasonable path. The only other person anywhere near her went the same way, so she didn’t question it, not until she realized that she was running in circles.
Sometimes, spiritually, we find ourselves running in circles. We haven’t given up, but we know something isn’t right. We keep passing that same sign, keep doing the same things, because we can’t figure out how to get on the right path. It’s frustrating. Maybe the path we took was the only path that seemed reasonable at the time, but it’s obviously not the one that will lead us to the finish line. God tells us in Proverbs 14:12
There is a way which seems right to a man, But its end is the way of death.
Just because a path seems right to me doesn’t mean that it will lead me to the finish line. It may instead lead me in circles, causing me to become lost and increasingly frustrated. What makes a path the right one is not that it feels right, but that it leads to the finish line. During the race, there was only one path that would lead my daughter to the finish line, and it wasn’t the one that she had initially viewed as the reasonable one.
Someone showed her the way…
The only reason that Laura Anne eventually crossed the finish line that day was because a kind lady stopped and showed her the right path. It was a scary experience for my daughter. Now she can laugh about it, but it was a rough 30 minutes or so. To know that you’re lost but not know how to fix it is scary. I can’t imagine going through this life that way, and thankfully I don’t have to. That is exactly why God sent us Jesus and gave us His word. When I open the Bible and listen to Jesus, He shows me the path I should take.
Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me.” John 14:6
The path that Jesus leads me on may not always seem reasonable. It may not be the path that I would choose, but listen to what Jesus said in Luke 9:23.
And He was saying to them all, “If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross daily and follow Me.”
There’s nothing in what Jesus says here that is reasonable to our earthy senses! We do not naturally deny ourselves. It is not what seems reasonable, and it may not be what anyone around us is doing, but that is how Jesus says we follow Him. And following Jesus is the only way that leads us to the Father…that leads us home.
I just want to go home…
Home is what Laura Anne wanted when she crossed the finish line. Once we knew that she had been located on the course, our whole family went to the finish line to wait for her. I was restless and started moving further and further up the course, just waiting for her to come around that turn. I felt like the father in the parable of the lost son in Luke 15 just watching the road for his child to come home. When Laura Anne appeared around the corner and saw us waiting there, she started to run straight to us. I pointed her toward the finish line, telling her to cross the finish line first. We were there waiting. She said with tears in her eyes “I just want to go home.”
I know that feeling. Don’t you? And our heavenly Father is waiting eagerly for us. He wants us to come home, but He wants us to finish our race first.
The finish line...
Laura Anne’s wrong turn happened after the three mile mark. She remembers seeing the sign. That means she only had a tenth of a mile left to go. You had to make that one turn (the one she missed) before you could actually see the finish line. If she had looked around and made that turn, she would have seen the finish line straight ahead of her. She didn’t even consider it though. She thought she was on the right path, so she didn’t look around to consider another. There came a point, though, when she knew that something wasn’t right.
Sometimes I reach a point spiritually when I know that something’s not right. I know that I’m running in circles that aren’t getting me anywhere. Then I need to consider my path. I need to open my Bible and listen to Jesus. I may not be able to see the finish line, but I have to trust that following Jesus will get me there, even if it involves taking a turn that I’m not sure about. The Father is anxiously waiting for me to come around that corner. Jesus wants to lead me to Him. I just have to be willing to follow.
I have fought the good fight, I have finished the course, I have kept the faith; in the future there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day; and not only to me, but also to all who have loved His appearing. 2 Timothy 4:7-8