Seeking That Which Strikes You
April 6, 2021
“We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed” (2 Corinthians 4:8-9, NIV).
One of my prior fellows sent me a text yesterday and asked if I would have time to offer some “fatherly” advice. He is a follower of Christ, the brightest fellow I have ever trained, who is now working a successful practice in a distant town. Last night we had that phone conversation. It centered around colleague relationships, a lack of respect shown to him and unfair criticism from a competing specialist, criticism that was hurting his reputation with other colleagues. We spent time discussing character, availability, excellence and other issues that might lead to criticism. None of these seemed to be the problem. He was simply caught in an unjust situation. I finally asked him, “What are the chief goals of your life?” He thought a minute before he replied, “The most important goals in my life are to raise my children well with love, to give my patients the best care they can receive and to serve Christ fully as He leads.” I followed, “The respect you deserve is important, but not one of these goals. Sometimes we just have to focus on the things that really matter, move our lives intentionally toward them and let other issues bless us or fall away.”
The word “gauntlet” comes from a Swedish word describing a running lane. And so it was in 17th and 18th century America, where Native Americans would have their captors run down a lane between warriors who would strike them with sticks, clubs and tomahawks. Daniel Boone survived such a gauntlet and was adopted into the Shawnee tribe, while many others died in transit or survived only to be burned at the stake.
Our Christian journey is sometimes such a gauntlet as we run forward through life trying to follow God’s lead. In some parts of the world, Christ-followers are literally struck down by the clubs and swords of those who hate them. Thus far in America, we are not yet physically persecuted, but we do run the gauntlet.
As we run toward God’s plan for our life, we are continually struck by sticks and clubs labeled with good names like “respect,” “money,” “relationships,” “time” and “self-fulfillment.” We are tempted to change course and seek that which strikes us. We overly desire the respect that leads to pride, money that leads to greed, unhealthy relationships that lead to betrayal, time that leads to wasted life and self-fulfillment that drives God off the throne. We turn from our course, embrace that which would destroy us and find ourselves wounded, distracted and discouraged.
There comes a time when we must refocus and charge again toward the things our hearts were made for and our lives were created to accomplish.
I think this young doctor had it right. If the goals we truly seek are family, our patients and Christ Himself, they are worth the blows our world delivers.
But, we’ve got to stop and choose the goals toward which we run. We must settle on life outcomes that matter and run toward them with our intentional focus. We must remain confident that Christ is running with us, pulling us forward. We must avoid the desire to turn and seek instead that which strikes us.
My previous fellow knows. He just needed a moment to stop and refocus.
For what three things might you run a gauntlet?
What desire might you be seeking that strikes you as you run?
Let me focus and run the gauntlet that You have laid before me. Let me not turn as I run.