“Each one should test their own actions. Then they can take pride in themselves alone, without comparing themselves to someone else, for each one should carry their own load.” — Galatians 6:4-5
The 2016 Olympics in Rio were met with a lot of fanfare, largely because it was the final go for swimming legend Michael Phelps. The final of the 200-meter butterfly lived up to the hype.
In the 2012 London Olympics, Phelps had suffered a rare defeat in the same event, taking home the silver medal while South African swimmer Chad le Clos won gold. In the 2016 race, le Clos and Phelps were lined up directly next to each other. Many expected yet another battle between the two.
Phelps took the turn after the first 50 meters just narrowly in second place, but began to take control of the race midway through. At the final turn, Phelps was in the lead with le Clos in second, but still more than half second behind. As the two sprinted the final 25 meters or so, a picture of the two was taken that later went viral. In the foreground was Phelps, his eyes trained on the wall ahead, focused on his stroke and finishing the race strong. In the background, nearly a full length behind, was le Clos, glancing over at Phelps instead of toward his own finish line.
Phelps won the gold, while le Clos fell out of medal contention.
Worrying about what someone else is doing rarely helps us do what we want to do or get where we want to. At best, it can serve as motivation, but at worst, it can distract us and derail us from reaching our full potential. Le Clos was in second place with 50 meters to go, and instead of focusing on his own race, he may have slowed himself down by looking over at Phelps — whom he had just beaten four years before.
God has set apart specific lanes for each of us. Like how Phelps kept his eyes trained on the finish line, we are called to keep our eyes and hearts trained on God and the truth that is in the Word of God. As Christians, our finish line is in Heaven, not on this earth. When we compare and look at the world or what other people are doing more than we look at God and what He’s called us to do, we get distracted. We fall behind. We don’t realize our full Godly potential.
When we ask God questions like, “Why can’t I have what they have?” or “Why don’t things work out for me like they do for them?” God reminds us to simply follow Him and trust that His plans are right (Galatians 6:4-5). We are reminded of God’s faithfulness in John 15:7: “If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you.” Another word for “remain” is “abide,” which means to act in accordance with God’s Word. And if God says He’s going to do something, He’s going to come through on His promise.
Focus on the race God has called you to run. Keep your eyes and heart trained on God.
— Cole Claybourn
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