by Joanie Butman
Struggling through a new exercise class Wednesday, I was happy to finish without having hurt anyone – including myself. While wine and wisdom may improve with age, endurance and coordination definitely do not. By the end of class I found myself dizzy, winded and apologizing to my neighbors. The familiar adage “marching to the beat of a different drum” took on new meaning as this was a Drumming Class. I must be tone deaf because the beat I heard was clearly different than the rest of the class.
Not being able to keep up in aerobics class isn’t a new phenomenon, but I mistakenly thought Drums Alive was a type of primal sound therapy rather than physical exercise. I suppose the Sneakers Required notation should have alerted me that something was amiss. Regardless, I even had trouble holding onto the drumsticks, which flew out of my hands a couple of times, fortunately avoiding doing any serious damage. Too late I realized the Power Napping yoga class going on concurrently in the next room would have been a wiser choice.
The only upside is that the experience reinforced an important spiritual lesson. Only when I kept my focus on the teacher did I have any chance of following her instruction. Whenever I looked at my neighbor or tried to improvise I immediately ran into trouble. It was then I just started flailing, trying in vain to get back into the groove. Therein lies the history of my life. If I had learned sooner to choose to keep my focus on God and His will for my life rather than on the myriad of worldly distractions, I may have saved myself years of flailing. Not only that, I’m sure there are some people who ended up as collateral damage that may have been spared as well.
In John 21:21 following Christ’s resurrection when Jesus reinstates Peter and tells him how he is going to die, the first thing Peter does is point to John and ask “What about him?” Jesus’ reply has always humored me as a polite reminder to Peter to mind his own business. He answered: “If I want him to remain alive until I return, what is that to you? You must follow me.” In today’s vernacular, “WITY?” Jesus has just forgiven Peter for his betrayal and commissioned Him to lead His sheep, and all Peter wants to know is the plan for his friend? Peter may not have followed flawlessly (nor will we), but he always knew who to call out to for help when he began to flail, “Lord, save me!” Don’t think I wasn’t calling out in much the same way during my class.
I have a hard enough time discerning God’s plan for my own life, I certainly have no business weighing in about anyone else’s – unless, of course, it’s for support and encouragement. Just as I lost my rhythm in class by taking my eyes off the teacher to see what my neighbor was doing, I’ve certainly lost spiritual focus by doing the same thing. And life sure gets ugly whenever I try to improvise.
Apparently, I wasn’t alone in losing focus because the instructor kept repeating “Eyes on me! Eyes on me!” And so does Christ throughout the gospels. Jesus calls us to follow Him – an impossible task when our focus is elsewhere. With the ubiquity of social media, I believe that message is more important today than ever before. God has a different beat for all of us, but we’re all part of His parade. Choose to listen for His unique beat for you and march on!