Which Way are You Facing?

Several weeks ago, I wrote a brief summary of what happened to me one morning on my daily walk.  I want to revisit that event a little more in-depth.

As many of you know, my dog Churchill and I walk every morning for 3-5 miles.  Each day we take different routes, but on Monday, Wednesday and Friday we usually take a route that includes the golf course closest to our home.  We live in a community that is built around one of the Robert Trent Jones Golf Courses.  Three courses are built around the same club and the Highlands course winds through the neighborhoods of Hampton Cove.

I have said that we live on a fishing lake and I don’t fish and in a golfing community and I don’t play golf.  But I enjoy both.  I enjoy the lakes without dropping a line and I enjoy the golf course without ever teeing off.  By going before 7 a.m., we can wander through the holes on foot without disturbing any duffers.  It is a beautiful time to walk the gently rolling terrain, and in the summer it is the most comfortable time of the day to be out there as well.

Other walkers, joggers and dog walkers also take the same opportunity.  Sometimes we see the same people regularly.  One of those was a man walking his dog, Savannah.  I know the dog’s name, but not the man’s.  So for several days we had crossed paths in a similar place near the 14th fairway.

One morning, after several days of rain, I was heading toward the sunrise and noticing the sun breaking through the clouds.  I was thinking how delightful it would be to have a sunny morning again.  I was feeling uplifted and joyful as I walked the cart path.

Soon, I met up with Savannah and her owner coming toward me from the opposite direction.  As we got within conversational distance we greeted each other.  One of the first things out of his mouth was surprising to me.  “Looks like it’s going to storm,” he said, pointing over my shoulder.

I was shocked as I turned and saw the angry clouds gathering behind me.  I was watching the sunrise and feeling uplifted.  He was looking at the clouds and feeling threatened.  As it turned out, the storm did not materialize, but neither did the sunny morning.

As I thought about this experience, I realized how philosophical it was.  Depending your focus, your mood could differ radically.  Walking toward the sun was uplifting.  Walking toward the clouds was threatening.

This applies to life in a larger sense, as well.  What we focus our lives on, what goal we strive for, determines how our lives develop.  If we focus on the positive, our lives can be positive.  If we focus on the negative, our lives can be negative.  Sometimes life is not as simple.  Sometimes it is shades of grey.  Sometimes we have to look hard into a negative situation to find something positive.  Sometimes even the most positive situation has its negatives.

But our general attitude does not need to controlled by the negative.

When I shared the original idea on Facebook, someone left the comment, “It’s not where you start, but where you are going that is important.”  That is so true.

And from a religious point of view, we are to focus our lives on Christ and his mission.  We focus on God’s plan, not the obstacles along the way.  As Paul says in the epistle to the Philippians, “But one thing I do:  Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.” (3:13-14)


About edwardsoule

The Rev. Dr. Edward A. Soule is now the pastor of Big Cove Cumberland Presbyterian Church, Brownsboro, AL. He retired as a United Methodist pastor who served 28 years as a minister in churches around the North Alabama Conference of the United Methodist Church. Before that, he was in Christian radio for 10 years and was a Baptist minister for two years. Over the years, Ed has also been a teacher in public schools, a private school principal, and taught at a Bible college. He has a B.A. from Bethel University, St. Paul, MN; a M. Div. from Bethel Theological Seminary; and a D. Min. from United Theological Seminary, Dayton, OH. Ed is now widowed. He had been married to Deborah (Mendelson) for 38 years. She was the executive director of Partnership for a Drug Free Community. He currently resides in the Hampton Cove community of Huntsville, AL, where Ed enjoys walking with their dog, Churchill, daily, running and keeping up the landscaping. "Dr. Edward" is available to speak to churches and other groups in the north Alabama/southern Tennessee area. Contact through this blog or directly at edsoule@comcast.net.
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