North Santa Rosa

Living With Purpose

As people living in a fast-changing world, there are some things that never seem to change. One of those things happens to be something we experience early in life. It’s the need to be loved and accepted; especially by our parents.

I had some early success in life while running competitive races. Even as a young kid I thrived on the thrill of victory and was enthralled with the competitive nature of sports. This was the result of my Dad encouraging me and giving me the opportunities to compete in the Junior Olympics track and field program. We also treated road races as family events. My Dad was my training partner in my formative years and he would, of course, always finish ahead of me in races. The work ethic and discipline he taught me paid off with each passing year, because I got faster. I ran because my Dad did and because I liked it too. There’s a Scripture verse that says, “I have done this to show you what should be done. You should do as I have done to you” (John 13:15). I tried to be like my Dad and do things like him.

On a warm spring day on April 17, 1982 I took a great step forward in my life’s journey. I was twelve years-old and it was the Gulf Breeze Optimist Club 10K run. It was a 6.2 mile race and I was determined to keep a steady pace and run strong throughout the race. On this particular day the mile markers seem to click by faster than at other times. I can remember passing the four mile mark and starting up a hill. When I rounded the curve I could hardly believe what I saw. There he was—my Dad. I thought to myself, “I’m catching him!” As I got closer I started getting nervous. I’d never beaten my Dad in a race and this was unknown territory for me. But everything he had taught me about sports, running, and giving it your all had led to this momentous race. When I was a few steps away, I just cruised for a few more strides and wondered should I even attempt to go around? After all, this was my coach, mentor, best buddy, and hero. Would he approve of me going around and potentially beating him? I wasn’t afraid, for he had always been a loving Dad. So, I decided to go. As I moved up on his right side, he looked at me as though he was expecting me and said, “Go get it son.” That was all I needed to hear. My Dad, whom I loved and admired, had just given me his approval to push forward and use the gifts he had helped me perfect. I finished the race for the first time ahead of my Dad and every race since then I’ve crossed the line before him. But it was his approval as a young, naïve boy that I longed for and received. That race ignited my passion to keep moving forward in my pursuit to be the best I could be.

Shouldn’t it be this way with our heavenly Father? Shouldn’t we seek His approval before moving into anything that is important to us? We should never find ourselves too overworked, over committed, and overwhelmed that we forget to seek God’s approval. Each day we are confronted with countless opportunities to invest our time into life’s personal endeavors. To walk in God’s will is to be going somewhere. To walk out of His will is to be going nowhere.

If you want God’s approval in how you live you will study God’s Word (the Holy Bible) and be watchful for His signs. You will want to associate with positive people who will encourage you and you’ll listen to that inner voice that speaks to you in the quiet moments and the chaotic moments. God intends to use you in wonderful and unexpected ways if you let Him. The decision to seek God’s approval and follow is yours and yours alone. God has designed a plan for you, not a problem. Your whole life has been training for who you are today.

Be careful not to forget that some of God’s greatest mercies are the things He does not approve for us. His “no” is always motivated by love and we should remember that it’s not good that we always give our children everything they ask for. The Bible says, “The mind of a person plans their way, but the Lord shows them what to do” (Prov. 16:9). The world approves all things and says anything goes. But God will lead you by His counsel. If you need to make a decision or you’re in a troubling circumstance and you need God’s approval before moving forward, take a moment and step back. Don’t focus on the world and get wrapped up in meeting societies expectations. The world will standardize you and try to make you fit a particular mold. God doesn’t expect you to be perfect, but expects you to keep moving forward toward Him and believe in Him. 2 Corinthians 5:9 says, “So, if we stay here on earth or go home to Him, we always want to please Him.” Your obligation isn’t to please imperfect men and women, but to strive diligently to meet the expectations of a perfect and forgiving God.

My Dad will confirm there’s nothing bittersweet about a son running a little faster than his Dad. And one day, if life goes as it routinely does, my own son will pass me in a race and run his own races in life. But no matter how fast, how far, or even how slow we may run; nothing can separate us from God’s love. Make it your desire to please God and your goal to hear Him say to you, “Well done thy good and faithful servant.”

  •  This weekly column is written      by Matt Dobson. A graduate of Florida State University, Univ. of West      Florida, and Liberty Baptist Theological Seminary, he is Pastor of New      Bethel Baptist Church in Jay, Florida and is a Captain (CPT) in the U.S.      Army Reserves Chaplain Corp. Matt can be reached by email:      He welcomes your thoughts concerning faith, belief, and Christian living.      Visit the Living With Purpose website at
Posted by on Mar 30 2014. Filed under Living With Purpose, Local, Top News. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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