Walking on a treadmill and walking on a roadway are two entirely different experiences. One may walk the same distance in the same amount of time on a treadmill as he does on a roadway. He may burn the same amount of calories and reap the same health benefits. But the two experiences are far from the same.
A person may walk a circuit on a roadway, going out a certain distance and then returning along the exact same pathway to the starting point; but the return trip is never the same as the advance trip. The flora and fauna are viewed from a different perspective. When returning, the person sets new landmarks and goals to reach. Vehicle traffic varies. The surroundings are ever changing and the possible encounters unpredictable. But the most rewarding part is feeling as if one is advancing.
On a treadmill, the goal is to cover an imaginary distance within a predetermined time limit. The goals and landmarks are numbers on an electronic display. And though one may try to take the edge off of the boredom by watching a televised event, the surroundings and encounters are both controlled and predictable. And the worst part is experiencing the feeling that one is going nowhere fast.
Life is much the same. When one sets attainable goals for each day, and then consciously strives to methodically reach those goals by moving forward in this ever-changing, unpredictable world, at the end of the day, he will look back at the day’s efforts with pride and pleasure. He may find himself at the very place he started, but he will have the satisfaction of knowing that he did his best to advance.
However, if one spends an identical amount of time simply existing, he may feel the same amount of seconds ticking away from his lifespan. He may walk the same amount of steps. He may seemingly put forth the same amount of effort, all the while pretending to cover the same amount of ground. But the experience will not be the same. He will inevitably find that his day was filled with clock watching and sighing.
The perception of advancement makes all the difference in our outlook on life. If we feel like we are on the treadmill of life, we will spend our time asking how much more time and effort we have to put in until we have completed our walk. However, if we feel that we are advancing toward a goal, we will spend our time asking how much further we get to walk.
Therefore it says, “Awake, O sleeper, and arise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you.” Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is.
(Ephesians 5:14-17 ESV)
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