As we walked out of Bible Study the other night, I found myself doing it again: hopelessly self-diagnosing my interactions with everyone else there. Perhaps a byproduct of being introverted. Perhaps not. I peppered my wife with questions that lead into sentences sandwiched between even more questions that betrayed how insecure I was feeling. Did I talk too much? I felt like I kept stumbling over my own words. I wasn't making much sense. What about when I said this or that? Do you think they noticed? What do they think about me? You see, I spent half the time worried about whether or not they thought I was godly enough to even be a part of the conversation.
On the opposite end of the spectrum, people have told me that I have an uncanny relationship with God. That somehow I have allowed my life experiences to draw closer to Him rather than push Him further away. When on the inside, I feel like I barely know anything about Him. Take the writings of C.S. Lewis. The sermons of Spurgeon. The contemplations of Richard Rohr. Even the servitude of the deacons at my local church. Those people know God. I know nothing.
Of course, the truth is somewhere there in the middle and left me with this question: why is it that some people appear to have God's favor while other' don't?
Maybe you've been there too, comparing yourself to others and their walk with God. The answer is rather simple: stop worrying about the race.
You see, for most of us, we view the rules of racing in the same light. If it is a straight path, then all runners must start at the same point. If the race goes around the track, then we stagger the starting point to compensate the curvature of the track. Otherwise, the outside path would be longer. Everyone starts at the exact same time and the faster runner wins.
Sounds fair enough.
But let's change it up a bit. Let's say that instead of two able-bodied adults running, we place me in a race against my seven year old. Is it still fair if we both start at the same time and in the same place? Hardly.
Why then do you (or I for that matter) think that everyone around us started at the same place in life with the same circumstances. It is so easy to forget that everyone we come in contact with has their own unique story with God. The come to the race with their own entanglements, struggles and medals.
The author of Hebrews puts it this way:
“Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.”
Set your eyes on God and don't worry about the other runners. Focus entirely on the task of running with endurance. Yes, talk to the other runners about what they've done to condition their body in preparation for the race ahead. But don't for a second allow self-pity have a say in how far you've come.