Not more than a few miles from our home we have a railroad crossing complete with flashers and gates. It isn’t a main thoroughfare but gets used often as a way to get to one side of the closest town more easily.
At present it is a very rough crossing and needs work for the deep ruts that are on more than one side of the rails. The speed limit on the street is 45 mph but when you come to the crossing you not only need to slow down, but also somehow almost travel at 5 mph to avoid destroying your car. One glitch that happens is that some drivers will not stay in their own lane to do that and go racing around others who are and then speed up the slight incline after the railroad tracks that has a double yellow line marked squarely in the center.
In so many ways and areas it seems we are prone to move into someone else’s lane. We are impatient and believe our lane is the way everyone should be going and going at the same rate of speed no matter what parameters are laid out.
Our tolerance or respect for others seems to get eroded more each passing day and one byproduct is how it shifts our focus from the lane we are in, the one that the Lord often placed us in, and we then wander into someone else’s lane. When that happens, we can start from a position that says through statements, actions, or innuendos that our path, our lanes is the best way for you to go as well.
Our pride shows, but much like a slip that others see is showing, we often miss it in ourselves. We offer unasked for advice. We give opinions presented as facts and fail to see what scripture points out:
3 “Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? 4 How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? 5 You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.”Matthew 7:3-5 (NIV)
Sadly, we all need to plead guilty as charged on this if we are brutally honest. None of us see ourselves as accurately as we may think, and the enemy of our souls would have it so. That way we can subtly be used by him in ways we miss, be a part of sowing division between us and others and erode even the best of relationships.
Have we forgotten that Paul says we “see through a glass darkly?”
We sit chatting over coffee with someone and often fail to listen well to hear not only the words and the heart of the other person, but also the context that is key to understanding what is being said. Then to complicate things, we respond at times and get “in the other person’s lane” without recognizing the path the Lord may have placed that person on.
Jesus reminded Peter about needing to stay in his own lane in a very direct way:
“Jesus answered, “If I want him to remain alive until I return, what is that to you? You must follow me.”John 21:22 (NIV)
We get focused on how someone else is driving, talking, opining, and miss that our focus needs to be staying in our own lane and following the Lord on the path He has laid out before us. Each of us will intersect with many other people in our lives and many different paths as well, but each of us has our own path, our own lane, our own race, and our own mission to complement each other in the whole of God’s kingdom.
In a recent reading of The Sacred Echo by Margaret Feinberg, she wrote about grappling with the words spoken by Jesus in John and sensed the Lord’s voice:
“You follow me.
Stop being distracted by the people in the lanes next to you. They have their lanes and you have yours. Keep your eyes focused on me, for only then can I open your eyes to things that you cannot see otherwise.”Margaret Feinberg in The Sacred Echo
Wise counsel indeed that gets reinforced in another quote from Margaret’s book:
“Don’t worry about the speed, productivity, or efficiency of others. Don’t be concerned with people who look like they’re running in circles. Stay the course. They have their lane and you have yours. You need to follow me.”Margaret Feinberg in The Sacred Echo
To stay in our own lane requires that we press in closer to the Lord with our ears attuned to his quietest whisper. It’s that simple and yet so challenging to stay there.