Keeping Pace

How do you know if you are making progress in your life’s pursuits or falling behind? Have you ever felt frustrated at not really knowing if have recently taken two steps forward or three steps back in accomplishing your goals? Do you ever get the urge to double your efforts to make the world a better place only to feel pangs of guilt that you should already be where you’re trying to get? Does your life consist of a lot of starts and stops? Do you wonder whether or not you have what it takes to follow through and finish what you say you want to do?

It’s important to think of your life in terms of a long-term process. You are where you are but not where you will be at future points in time. Running has taught me a lot of practical lessons about making overall progress in a plan. I am still a relative novice at the sport but I enjoy doing it and have every intention of getting better at it over time. I remember when I started a few years ago that my goal was to be able to run five kilometers a few times a week and improve my time gradually. You may not think that’s a big deal but it was for a guy who up to that point couldn’t run to the street corner and back without being totally spent. As I stuck with the program I noticed that there was an important element to my training that helped me to make steady gains as time went on. The key was to keep a constant pace that built up my endurance enabling me to finish strong.

I began running regularly with Arlene, my wife, who got me started in the sport. She set the pace for our runs and if I kept in step with her I knew that I would complete the course because she always did. She looked effortless in her stride to me although she tells me that looks can be deceiving as she exerts a lot of energy to stay with it. Most of the time I ran along beside her or just behind her because she set a comfortable pace for me to follow. And just like her, I usually had a little extra to give heading for the finish line which gave me a sense of accomplishment.

Now the problem came when I ended up at times running on my own. I learned that I have the tendency to get ahead of myself early on and wind up running out of fuel for the final stretch. Sure, it seemed like I was going to really improve on my time at the start because I was going faster but in the end I often finished slower because I was out of breath and in discomfort. So what did I do? I got back to having someone set the pace for me and kept it simple. The result was that after a while, I developed the ability to pace myself and eventually became a pace-setter for others. And now, regardless of my level of ability, I look for others to set the pace that I want to develop and at the same time let myself set the pace for others who want to follow me.

In your life’s pursuits, don’t go it alone. Someone has made himself available for you to follow, one who is setting the pace for you that will enable you to finish what you start and finish strong. Who is that pace-setter? It’s Jesus. “Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our that you will not grow weary and lose heart.” (Hebrews 12:2,3) Stay focused on Jesus who never goes too quickly or too slowly. He will teach you how to run your race of life well and finish strong. And as you do that, you will discover that others are watching and following you and learning how to develop a good and healthy pace.