“Let us fix our eyes on Jesus…” (Hebrews 12:2, NIV)
I had worked out fiercely, preparing all summer long for this day. The day finally arrived and as we lined up on the starting line, Coach Deal blew his whistle and we were off and running.
It was the first day of fall football practice and the linemen had to report being able to run a mile in seven minutes or less. My goal was to do more than beat the clock, I wanted to trounce the other guys too. I aimed to win the race. I was in shape and ready, but so was Doug. Everyone figured it would either be Doug or me to cross the finish line first. When I walked by Coach he whispered in my ear, “My money’s on you, Baldwin.” No pressure.
As I had trained all summer, I planned to keep my pace the first three laps around the track, pick it up on the last lap, and kick into a sprint on the final third and fourth turns. I found my pace quickly, and as it turned out I was right behind Doug with the other guys a good bit farther behind me.
Doug led the first three laps when he began flailing his hands around his face like he was swatting bees. He lost speed like a car running out of gas. The gap between us closed, I waved “bye” and blew by him winning the race by a huge margin. It was a six minute mile! Doug finished fifth.
Doug had what it took to win the race. He was in great shape, and he was more muscular than most of his other teammates. His problem? Beads of perspiration dripped from his forehead into his eyes. Each of us had to cope with our own sweat in the sweltry, August heat. Doug, however, couldn’t handle it. He blamed losing the race on the little distractions that the rest of us also had to contend with. Sweat in August was just part of the deal, but he let it become a distraction that cost him the winner’s circle.
The writer of the book of Hebrews knew why those early Jewish Christians threatened to give up and quit their faith. They had become distracted by the arguments, opinions, threats and viewpoints of non-Christians, and were on the verge of returning to their old lifestyles. To this, the writer exhorted them to “fix their eyes on Jesus.”
The devil is a master at diverting our attention. He creates a problem by arranging it in the form of a distraction, and then fades into the background, unaware except to those who are spiritually discerning. It’s possible that distraction is one of his greatest spiritual weapons. Is it any wonder that Hebrews urges us to “fix our eyes.” Fix means to fasten, cement, or make firm. Fixing doesn’t happen by accident. It’s a purposeful act.
Natural things–even good things–can take us down a path that causes us to lose focus. I’ve learned that being unfocused does not mean you’ve had a total blackout. You still see well enough to fake it for a time. Later, however, the lack of focus wears on you and you give up because it’s too taxing to maneuver through life, fulfill a goal, or live for God without seeing clearly.
Every morning I “fix my eyes on Jesus.” Most mornings, not much emotion is involved in the process, at least in the beginning. Sometimes exuberant feelings come as the Holy Spirit touches my heart. But I’ve lived long enough to know that if I don’t fix my eyes on the Lord early in the day I’m more susceptible to distractions as the day wears on. Further, once my eyes are fixed on His Word and His presence, the rest of my person follows suit.
When my attention becomes affixed to the Lord, my spirit more readily picks up on distractions that attempt to draw me away from Him and His purpose for me. When distractions come, and they will, I’m more apt to detect them because they do not fit with my earlier focus. Once you fix the eyes of your heart in the first part of your day, it’s easier for your spirit to discern things that come along that don’t harmonize with God’s best for you. “O God, my heart is fixed; I will sing and give praise, even with my glory” (Psalm 108:1, KJV).
Doug went on to have a great football season. He didn’t get kicked off the team because of being easily distracted on the opening day of practice. He did, however, lose the race he had prepared for all summer. A small distraction was all it took for my high school buddy to lose focus, then lose the race.
I suppose you can still be a Christian even if you have trouble keeping your focus on the Lord. But you will never be the conqueror, the overcoming winner you were meant to be. “I will meditate on your precepts and fix my eyes on your ways” (Psalm 119:15, ESV), declared the Psalmist. You can bet on it, the enemy of your soul will bring distractions, but distractions don’t have to throw you off track. If you start your day with a right focus, you will end your day in victory lane!