Tag Archives: focus

Play your game

It’s March “madness”.  One of my favorite times of the year.  I love watching as many basketball tournament games as possible,  trying to will my team on and enjoying the moments of upset and triumph.  A tournament presents a special challenge to coaches and players alike.  You get very short notice about who you will be playing from one night to the next.  A coach could try to analyze every potential opponent and come up with a game plan for each possible match-up – in some cases this is what they do.  But more often than not the coach will rely on their game.  This is simply trusting in what they do well, and executing their style offense and defense.  In the in-game interview, you often hear the coach give an excuse for the other team’s success by saying, “they got us out of our game” or “they forced us to play their game”.

The writer of Hebrews described this type of mentality as it relates to our walk with Christ.  Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles.  And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. Hebrews 12:1-2

Christ is calling each of us to throw off or ignore those things that distract us from the goal – a life lived entirely for Christ.  We are called to simply shed whatever entangles us.  It sounds simple, but in reality we find it very difficult. We (myself included) have a skewed priority outlook.  Too often, our walk in Christ is dependent on everything else going on in our life.  In reality, our entire life should be dependent on Christ.  He should be the first thought in every decision, and our perspective should be eternal – with eyes fixed on Jesus.  So why is this so hard?  Why do we let this world throw us off our game?  For me, it’s a pretty simple answer – faith.  I still rely so much on my ability and don’t leave room for God to be God of my life.  I cram so many things into life that have little or no real eternal value.  I give Him the areas that are easy to give up, but I hold on to those areas that I am ashamed of, or that I want to control.  There is a lot of “I” in my life and not nearly enough of Him.  The first step in fixing this is faith.  My faith has to run deep enough that I am willing to give up control of my life.  It is not enough for me to try to do this.  It’s a must.  Christ’s sacrifice demands it.  He has to be first.  If He isn’t, my life will choke him out of the picture.  Too often I identify with the type of person that only gives to God what is comfortable.  That’s not real sacrifice.  That’s not the depth of relationship God is looking for, or demands.  My walk with Christ shouldn’t be so comfortable that a walk without Him wouldn’t look any different.

When a runner lines up at the starting line to run his race, he often takes a few seconds to look down the track.  He doesn’t look left, he doesn’t look right, he looks down the track.  His eye is on the prize.  He knows when the gun fires, he must explode out of the starting block, and focus ahead, straining with all he has to reach the end.  The moment that he allows his focus to shift to the competition on his right or left, he’ll become distracted and that momentary distraction can be all it takes to derail the race.  Jesus is the finish line.  He is the ultimate prize.  His way is perfect and the path he has laid before us has been precisely prepared.  Just as the writer of Hebrews exclaimed, we have one job – eye’s on the prize, that focus will help us put everything into perspective, and will elevate Christ to his rightful place as the complete controller of our lives.  Are you focused on your game or are you distracted by everything around you?

God, I thank you for your wisdom, and your perfection. I thank you for the challenge to give my entire life to you and I commit to a life lived for you first.  I pray that I will be obedient to follow you and keep my eyes focused on you so that I may persevere in my walk with you.  Lead me Lord.  In your name I pray – Amen.

The pebble in my shoe

I know we have all been there.  Especially runners.  This is how it plays out for me:

I look outside and see the sun shining, a gentle breeze, and I begin to mentally prepare for it.  I slide my shoes on and they feel great, maybe even lighter today.  Phone strapped to my arm, ear buds in and comfortable.  A quick stretch or two to loosen up and get the blood flowing.  I step out on the porch and walk quickly – with a lighter step to the end of the driveway.  I look up the street and set my focus, hit start on my tracker and  begin to jog.  My steps feel great.  My core is tight and I am focusing on the first song.  In my playlist it’s a great song by Chris Tomlin called God’s Great Dance Floor.  I round the corner at the bottom of the street and I am feeling great.  It seems like no time and my tracker is proudly announcing the first mile is complete.  “That seemed faster today,” I think to myself.  Then it happens.  A slight discomfort in my right shoe.  Maybe it’s nothing…no there it is again.  Somehow I have picked up a pebble.  It’s rolling under the center of my foot on every stride.  Now my focus is elsewhere.  I don’t hear the music, I am locked in on the pain with each step. My mind begins to battle a little.  I can stop and fix it, quickly and keep going, but I have a great pace and I want to run from beginning to end.  I keep going, but the pebble is still there.  It feels like it is piercing my foot with each stride I take.  I have lost all focus on the world around me and can think of nothing else but that small pebble.

Every person reading this probably thinks the same thing.  Take the shoe off, shake out the pebble and keep running. That’s the logical thing to do.  You’re right.  It is.  But as this happened to me not too long ago, it made me think about my life in general, especially my Christian walk.  How many times have I let a pebble – some sin that keeps burrowing into my soul take my focus off Christ?  How often have I left that sinful pebble in my soul and tried to just deal with it on my own?  This happens more often than not.  My “I can do it myself” mentality takes me down a dark path and before I realize what happened, I can’t find God anywhere in my life.  Wouldn’t it be simpler for me to stop and get rid of the pebble?  Better yet, when that pebble seems more like a boulder, wouldn’t it be easier to rely on God’s ability to remove it from my life?  I was reminded of David when he fell for Bathsheba.  2 Samuel 11 paints a picture of a spiral out of control.  David sinned, first when he looked on this woman while she bathed, then taking her into his bed which resulted in pregnancy.  Reading through the passage, we see David losing all focus on the battle he was leading, and instead being consumed with trying to get out of the mess he had created.  Choose today to check your shoe before you run.  Finding the sinful traps in your life and praying for God’s strength to avoid or overcome them is the recipe for a closer walk with Christ.

Lord, today I am thankful for your love and mercy in my life.  I am thankful that you love your creation and willingly laid down your life so that I could have mine.  Thank you for never leaving me and for your power and strength over my sin nature.  I ask for your help in removing the pebbles that cause my focus to be turned from you.  I rejoice in your word and promise to always be by my side through this life.  In Christ I pray – Amen.