Everyday I feel like it’s the bottom of the ninth and I’m up at bat. We are down by one, the bases are loaded and it’s full count – everything depends on this next pitch and on my response to it. But no pressure, right? The advice I am receiving in this moment is the same advice I received in the moments leading up to this one – the same advice I just received for each of the previous five pitches hurled my way during my current time at bat – the same advice I have been receiving for years (because it does not change with time) which is – keep your eye on the ball.
Now this does not seem an impossible task – this connecting of the bat with the ball – difficult yes – impossible no. My worst enemy at this moment – anything or anyone that would distract me, even momentarily, from the task before me. Anything or anyone that would cause me to take my eye off the ball, would cause my failure and ultimately my defeat and the defeat of my team. So I must keep my eye on the ball no matter what else happens!
But now imagine, if you will, that the ball is invisible and I am blindfolded! Impossible odds! No way can I hit the unseen ball now. And yet, the advice I am given in this situation remains the same, keep my eye on the ball. Do they know what they are asking of me? But God’s word is clear,
“for we walk by faith, not by sight.” (2 Corinthians 5:7)
Walking, running, hitting invisible baseballs – all without sight – all with faith? I don’t need my human sight after all, just faith? Hebrews 11:1 tells me this about faith,
“Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” another translation of that same verse says,
“But faith is an assurance of what is hoped for, a conviction of unseen realities.”
substance, evidence, unseen realities – (how can something be both unseen and real?) these make up my walk of faith – so that ball barreling towards me is real enough, even though invisible to me. Doesn’t seem like a level playing field, does it? But Ephesians 6:12-13 gives me an explanation of the situation I find myself facing,
“For we are not fighting against people made of flesh and blood, but against persons without bodies – the evil rulers of the unseen world, those mighty satanic beings and great evil princes of darkness who rule this world; and against huge numbers of wicked spirits in the spirit world. So use every piece of God’s armor to resist the enemy whenever he attacks, and when it is all over, you will still be standing up.” (Living Bible)
Oh, that explains the advice I get from Hebrews 12:2 and 2 Corinthians 4:18 – both telling me essentially where to look in order to keep my eye on the ball, so to speak. Hebrews 12:2 instructs me with these words –
“Let us (me) fix our (my) eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our (my) 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.”
So, I am to keep my eyes on Jesus, who is invisible and I am told to –
fix my eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal. How interesting – the things I am to focus on are unseen, invisible things – intangible entities. Paul lost his physical sight while he was traveling on the road to Damascus, This loss of sight, enabled Paul to see clearly who Jesus really was and Paul fixed his eyes on Jesus from that point on for the rest of his life. You could say Paul never took his eye off the ball after his eye opening encounter with the living Christ. I don’t want to be any different. However, there are so many things to distract me in this world that I can be all too easily persuaded to fix my eyes somewhere else or on someone else.
If I can’t keep my eyes on what I can see, (like the ball) how am I ever to keep my eyes on what I can’t see? Yet that is exactly where I’m told to fix my eyes – on those unseen eternal things – God’s love, truth, mercy, salvation, reconciliation, peace, healing, compassion, justice, faithfulness, freedom, righteousness, goodness, God’s great grace in the gift of His Son – all invisible manifestations of an eternal, holy God.
Every day I find myself standing at home plate, bat in hand, wondering if the next pitch will be a fast ball, a spit ball, a curve ball (life throws lots of those my way) while trying to keep my eye on the ball but being totally distracted by the cares and concerns of the day, also being blindfolded and knowing I am swinging at an invisible ball – just as I am fighting an invisible foe. (Ephesians 6) Impossible odds – and yet – I don’t lose heart – I stay in the batter’s box because –
“the battle is the Lord’s.” (1 Samuel 17:47) and because ” . . . with God all things are possible.” (Matthew 19:26)
even a home run in the bottom of the ninth –
sincerely, Grace Day