About three days a week, I get up early, before there is even a hint of the crack of dawn, and go on a “run”. Now, admittedly, sometimes it’s more of a jog and sometimes it is an intense speed workout. It all depends on how many times I woke up in the middle of the night, how thick the air is with humidity, and how much time I have before I must be back home to “start the day” with the family. Lately, due to the sauna-like air in Florida-even at 5 am- I am mostly, and barely—jogging. Despite the intense heat and the perfused sweating, I do enjoy this time to myself. It is a time where I can clear my mind and focus on certain things: what I want to accomplish with my family for the week, organize my errands, plan menus and make grocery lists. I also use this time to come up with new Pilates routines, devotions etc. for my ministry and classes.
One day as I was running, I began to think about how I often see the same people out and about at the same time. One man walks his white dog along one of the streets, and I always get a smile and a wave from the 2 bikers, 1 walker, and 3 runners I pass on my route. We have grown accustomed to each other, expect each other to be there. This is comforting, of course, to feel connected in the midst of a vast sea of strangers. Bonding with others on one level while having the solitude I crave. But that got me thinking, and it is unfortunate that this even crosses my mind, if these people know my route, expect me to be here, then so might someone who is not “friendly”. Indeed, by keeping the same course, I had created a comfortable routine, but also created a situation where someone could lie in wait to harm me instead.
This reminded me of 1 Peter 5:8 that states, “Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.” By staying in our routine habits, which make us feel safe and secure, we can actually set ourselves up for attack from the enemy. I found this to be true during the course of my recovery from my eating disorder. I would often have routines in my life- weighing myself, over-examining my body in the mirror, choosing only certain foods- that would set me up to be triggered by my eating disorder to restrict my food or engage in other negative behaviors. Becoming self-controlled and alert to these “routines” and changing my course allowed me to continue down the path of recovery and avoid the enemies attacks.
So whereas sometimes routines are comfortable, reassuring, and necessary in our daily lives, changing the route may also be beneficial in staying the course that God has provided for us. You see, although I may not always run the same route, my destination is the same. I keep focused on what is ahead; my resting place, my home, my family. And in the course of my life, although my routines may change, my focus stays the same, seeking to know God and to follow Him. However, not all roads lead to this end. When choosing a new “route” on my path to seeking God, I must remember to stay self-controlled and alert, focusing on Christ, the only true route to God. Whether it is a new Bible Study, accountability group, church service, prayer time, the route must lead me to my soul’s resting place, Christ Jesus, my home is heavenward, through Him. As Paul states, “Not that I have already obtained all this.. but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me…. I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead,I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.”
How is your course? Is your routine setting you up for enemy attack? How might changing your daily route help you stay the course for the ultimate prize?