I confess – I was never very good at softball, although it was fun to play in the summers in our backyards and in the empty lot down the street. What was my fatal flaw? I failed to heed the age old adage, “don’t take your eye off the ball.” Guess I blinked, or got distracted, or maybe I was already eyeing first base, my destination, or perhaps an opponent yelled out something distracting, or a car drove by or the runner on first took off as the ball left the pitcher’s hands, and for a split second I watched the runner rather than the ball that was headed my way. The reasons for me taking my eyes off the ball are endless. The result always the same – a swing and a miss. I know the secret. keep my eyes on the ball. I just didn’t heed it. There are always distractions – other things vying for my attention.
Distractions are just as prevalent in my daily life today as they were all those years ago on the softball field. Learning to deal with distractions is an acquired skill that would serve me well if I could master it. I think it has something to do with focus. And focus follows my gaze. Where my eyes go – there my mind follows. So if my eyes are on the ball, my focus (or my mind) will be on the ball as well. But when I take my eyes off the ball, my focus is no longer where it needs to be, but is somewhere else entirely. I guess that’s why Hebrews 12:2 tells me,
“Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.”
Focusing on Jesus will get me where I need to go. “He makes me lie down in green pastures, He leads me beside quiet waters, He restores my soul. He guides me in paths of righteousness for His name’s sake.” (Psalm 23:2-3)
Jesus leads me, restores me, guides me. As long as I keep my eyes on Him and not elsewhere, I won’t be led somewhere I really don’t want to go. It depends on whom or on what I choose to fix my gaze. 2 Corinthians 4:18 tells me,
“So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.”
And I thought keeping my eye on the ball (which is seen) was hard! Now I am supposed to keep my eyes on what is unseen? How do I do that? Paul wrote this to the Ephesians,
“I pray also that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which He has called you, the riches of His glorious inheritance in the saints,” (Ephesians 1:18)
Some things I have to see with my heart’s eyes, which makes sense in light of my favorite quote which says, “it is only with the heart that one can see rightly, what is essential is invisible to the eye.” That explains 2 Corinthians 4:18 (above) – fixing my eyes on that which is invisible to the eye, (such a contradiction, I know) – but the unseen things are the eternal things – the things that matter most. Faith, hope, love, truth, freedom, kindness, mercy, forgiveness, . . . these are the things I should be fixing my eyes on –
“Look to the Lord and His strength; seek His face always.” (Psalm 105:4)
This verse reminds me of one of my favorite hymns which says, “turn your eyes upon Jesus, look full in His wonderful face, and the things of earth will grow strangely dim, in the light of His glory and grace.”
It matters where I look or to whom I look. In sports with balls, like softball, the secret is – “don’t take your eye off the ball.” In life, if my goal is to be a Christ follower, the secret is – “don’t take my eyes off of Jesus.” When I do, I lose my way. And that’s exactly what happens when the distractions of life shift my gaze, even momentarily. Where my eyes are fixed, my feet follow.
“My eyes are ever on the Lord, for only He will release my feet from the snare.” (Psalm 25:15)
“But as for me, I will look to the Lord, I will wait for the God of my salvation; my God will hear me.” (Micah 7:7)
“Those who look to Him are radiant; their faces are never covered with shame.” (Psalm 34:5)
sincerely, Grace Day