This morning, on my run, I almost ran an old lady off the sidewalk. My friend and I were about an hour into our glorious run, chatting away near Cooks Hill and didn’t move over to let the lady through. As we almost collided, she let us know what she thought about us in very unflattering terms. I didn’t even realize what had happened until I heard her yelling back at us. We were a bit rude to not step off the sidewalk and let her have it.
I have tunnel vision when I run. I can come home after 10K and not be able to tell you one thing I saw on the road that day. I just run and run and get so caught up with the thoughts inside my head, that I can’t even remember where I am sometimes. I have made wrong turns down streets for half a mile before I realize I need to turn around. I don’t look at street signs. I don’t look at the houses. I just run. And when I’m with a friend, I talk and run. So, you can see, it’s easy to knock an old lady off the road in this fixated state.
As Christians, we often run through life with a narrowed viewpoint, concentrating on a single idea to the exclusion of others.
(And I don’t mean in our belief system, which can be considered “narrow-minded” by those who disagree with our morals and convictions.)
I’m talking about the greatly restricted peripheral vision we have due to our focus on OURSELVES. How many times do I go through a day thinking about MY problems, MY situation, MY family, MY food, MY schedule, MY, MY, MY, and give no thought or consideration to those sharing my sidewalk?
In ministry, we walk right past hurting people in the corridors of our own churches. We ignore the signs of a friend in need because of our paltry outlook. Our field of vision hones in on what WE want, OUR goals, and OUR desire to move ahead faster, better, stronger. We don’t knock people down physically on our way to where we are going, but we might shove them out of our ‘busy’ circle of life. The people around us can be seen as impediments to our journey. They, needing our time, slow down our pace.
They, like the elderly woman this morning, see us coming and wonder if we are going to move out of our way to acknowledge them. They watch us move through our lives, striding along, not knowing if their slower pace is good enough to be noticed. Often, when we do, it’s too late.
I want to shift my focus with a phone call to check on how a friend is doing or by treating someone to coffee. A card in the mail or a FB private message can go a long way to opening our eyes to see what’s in front of us. Instead of looking at what someone can DO FOR ME, I want to expand my peripheral vision and see whats coming my way. More for others, no motive involved.
Most people think the church is peripheral to the world. But, Ephesians 1:23 in the Message says the world is actually peripheral to the church. Maybe if we stop acting like everyone and everything is peripheral to us, and put ourselves on the periphery, we might find ourselves more influential, more heard, and more valued by those around us.
Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others. Philippians 2:3,4