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Over a conversation with my sister, I told her that a certain person was slowing her down in her bid to achieve her dreams. I began thinking about this important question, “Who’s slowing me down?”
One need not be a Christian to know that stumbling blocks, hindrances, obstacles and distractions do not help us stay focused on our objectives and goals in life.
The first time I heard the phrase ‘slowing me down’ was from the movie The Bourne Identity, one of my favourite, and perhaps over-watched and over-quoted films. When Jason (Matt Damon) and Marie (Franka Potente) go on the run in Europe, he leaves her behind at her brother’s in Germany because he was putting her life at risk.
Track 14 in the movie soundtrack is entitled ‘Jason Phones It In’, and this is when he rings up his former Treadstone boss Conklin (Brian Cox) in Langley, Virginia, to find out why they are after him.
Conklin: Hello Jason, so what are we into now?
Conklin: C’mon it only goes two ways, Jason. Either you come in and let us make this right, or we’ll keep going until we’re satisfied.
Jason: You mean until you kill me?
Conklin: I can’t fix this Jason if I don’t know what the problem is. So tell me what we’re into and I’ll do the best I can.
Conklin: Why don’t you talk to Marie, Jason? Let’s ask Marie what she wants to do.
Jason: Actually I don’t think she gives a shit. She’s dead.
Conklin: I’m sorry to hear that. How did that happen?
Jason: She was slowing me down.
When I was younger I used to think I could walk the dog and get my evening walk done. But every 50m she would stop for a wee, sniff at something near the trees or suddenly make a dash across the road. I realised that I couldn’t get my exercise while walking her, because she was slowing me down.
It’s so easy to get annoyed with people who walk or do things slowly. When I became accustomed to the hustle bustle of city living, I didn’t realise how quickly I began to walk. When I go shopping with my mum at home, she would complain that I leave her behind in the aisle. I then (shamefully) accuse all the inhabitants of my island hometown of living a small-minded and hedonistic lifestyle.
In Matthew 16:23, Jesus turned to Peter and said: “Get behind me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to me. You do not have in mind the things of God, but the things of men.” This happened after Peter took Jesus aside and reprimanded him for predicting his own death.
Every Christian has their own race to run and their own mountain to climb in their relationship with God. None of us are competing against each other, but we are to help and encourage our fellow runners. Pick them up when they fall, cheer them on as they gain speed. However, we are not in a position to run their race for them, nor are they to run our race for us.
So ask yourself, “Who’s slowing me down?” Ask the Holy Spirit, who is our conscience and counselor, to search our hearts and point out anything that offends him, as David asked in Psalm 139. And trust me, you’ll be running so fast and growing exponentially (like Edward Bloom in Big Fish) that you’ll begin to wonder why no one else is keeping up. But because God is so infinite and endless, the more you run, the more you’ll realise how much more there is to go.
Let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us. We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith.” (Hebrews 12)