In September, as an effort to save money, I sold our second vehicle and bought a moped from a Marine friend. This decision made sense financially and seemed reasonable since Okinawa may be the best place to make such a transition. I had hesitations at first, but I am happy with the decision and I have enjoyed learning a new way of life. Boots and jeans are my wardrobe on riding days, which is different than the shorts and sandals that I sported before. (As an aside, the locals ride in flip-flops and tank tops with helmet straps blowing loose in the wind.)
Also, in September I started my marathon training plan, so that I will be ready for my third Okinawa Marathon come February. I prayed for a running partner and God provided two! For both, it will be their first marathon and prior to this they would self-describe themselves as non-runners. In sharing my acquired running wisdom with them, I have been surprised by how much I knew and had stored away in my brain. What a meaningful experience it has been to ponder lessons anew as I pass them along.
These two things, my moped riding and my running, share a valuable life lesson: you need to fix your eyes on where you want to go; you need to raise your gaze.
When riding, the perspective of pavement is a problem. You look down and that is where you will go. Look up. Look through the intersection. Look through the turn. There are countless examples as to why this is important, like awareness of traffic hazards and identifying an escape route for an emergency. But very basically, it helps balance and direct the bike. When attempting a turn, a limited line-of-sight causes you to cut the curve too wide. Turning your head before your handlebars will shift your weight and help you steer. In short, you go where your eyes go.
In running, concrete concentrating or focusing on your feet brings fatigue. So many times I have been mentally whipped, but when I simply look up all of the sudden striding seems easier. Looking up brings efficiency, stewardship of one’s stride; it is not about exerting more effort. Besides the fact that the act of looking down brings discouragement, it is also dangerous for obvious reasons. Practicing this simple lesson of looking up helps me run well, bringing hope and avoidance of obstacles.
A similar lesson can be found in Scripture:
Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. (Hebrews 12:2)
The verse that precedes this (v. 1) is important as it speaks about running unhindered and with perseverance. However, it is not simply a call to run unhindered and run hard, but rather to fix our eyes and look to Jesus. The Greek word for look that appears here is aphorao and this is its only occurrence. A good biblical usage is “to look away from one thing so as to see another.” As the examples of moped riding and running show: looking down hinders, while looking up supports success. The eye gaze must be exchanged in order to achieve the desired end. By all means do not neglect necessary preparations or training, but do not overlook such a simple and significant matter as setting your sights.
Look to the Savior because finishing well is not a matter of mere striving. Consider what Jesus did and how He did it. Look to the founder and perfecter of the faith. As another new year approaches keep this lesson in mind regardless of what awaits you or what you anticipate.