Heard a great ‘message/personal story’ by new pastor Stephen Collins at LifePoint Church yesterday. His main illustration and emphasis was about baseball. He talked about how his Dad taught him at a young age to ‘keep his eye on the ball’.
If you play ball – or know anything about it from others who do – then you know that this advice from coaches is not just a suggestion – but a tried and true method in which you connect with the ball. You take your eyes off – and you not only lose the possibility of connection – but you can miss altogether. This is a great ‘life lesson’ as well.
There are many distractions in life – those things that can take our focus off what is really important. Oh – sometimes they are really little things – hardly detectable by anyone else – but for you – they can mean the difference between having a ‘win’ – or ‘striking out’.
I believe that things happen for a reason. Emotions and situations are neutral. It is how I process them – and choose to react to them that makes the difference between a ‘win’ for me – or a ‘loss’. When I understand this – I am able to find my focus and not let others distract me – or try to pull me to one side or another. If God is truly the central focus of my life – and He is – then the ‘other things’ become neutral. My responsibility is to do what He asks me to do – nothing else. That – for me – is ‘keeping my eye on the ball’.
In every heart – in our deepest part of our soul – we have a ‘God space’ – that no one else can go. It is our ‘secret place’ with Him alone. Others can not fill us up – it is for Him alone. When we try to fill it with other things in life – or other people – thinking these things will be enough and satisfy – we are easily distracted and disappointed – become discouraged and can be depressed. Especially when our self-worth depends on what others think and say about us or to us directly. When we keep our eyes on Him alone – the rest does not matter – we don’t need man’s approval – or advice to make us feel better. We can simply rest in Him.
I plan to ‘keep my eye on the ball’ – I will fail because I’m flawed and capable of really messing it up – but after I blow it – I will again pick myself back up and find my focus once again. I know I will be distracted by ‘well meaning’ people who try to sway me in one direction or another – but my goal is to be secure in spite of these obstacles – and be confident enough in myself – even when others don’t agree – even when things are slipping out of my hands and my world is shaken – even when I don’t handle it right with people. I want to be solid and unswayed in my belief that I only need to answer to God alone – and NOT take my focus off what I know He is calling me to do.
What is God calling you to do? Do you stand alone? Are there many distractions and troubles? Is your heart heavy from the weight of it? Welcome to the club! Welcome to life. Hold on weary traveler – don’t lose your focus – or be weary in well-doing. Keep your eye on the ball.
“But blessed is the man who trusts in the LORD, whose confidence is in him. He will be like a tree planted by the water that sends out its roots by the stream. It does not fear when heat comes; its leaves are always green. It has no worries in a year of drought and never fails to bear fruit.”
I LOVE trees. I can stare at them forever. They mesmerize me. Each one is so different – unique and beautiful in its own way. I love what Jeremiah had to say about those of us who “trust in the Lord” – comparing us to trees – special trees planted by the water. Knowing that those trees are near a water source – they never have to fear the heat from the sun or even lack of rain causing a serious drought – these trees always bear fruit – no matter what.
As we press into God and plant ourselves near to Him – we can relax. We don’t have to keep looking around for a “water source”. We are contented and never thirsty for other things that the world has to offer us. He is our never ending “supply”. He fills us up. Even when we go through times of “heat” and “drought” – as we often do in this life. And unfortunately – no one escapes it. Everyone of us will experience health issues and family situations – and even loss. We will go through painful experiences and lonely times. We will wonder what has happened to us at times. But if we have spread our roots out in search of His never ending supply of strength and mercy – we will find something else waiting for us – a deep joy and peace that come from belonging to – and living under His protection over our lives. Even in the storms of life. Even in the “dark night of the soul” times. Even in grief. Even in heartache. Even in silence. Even in waiting. Yes – even then.
I would love to say that I live in that place with no worries – but sadly – I am still on a journey – and on that journey I have experienced things that have brought me to my knees, wondering at times – where God was. Or worse – it was during those times – that I found Him to be silent and distant. But I knew He was still there. I had His word to remind me – and others in my life that encouraged me on a daily basis. God used people in my life to bless me – when I thought all hope was gone at times. When it felt like my own personal loss would swallow me – He sent strong friends to me – and it was through them that I heard His voice to me once more whispering my name – and it was through them – that I learned He had not abandoned me. And It was during this dark time that I leaned more and more on that knowledge that God was still there for me – my source of strength and supply of living water – during the biggest drought and most intense heat of my life.
Are you in the middle of your own personal intense heat and drought today? Are you experiencing things you never have before and wonder if you can make it through?
I am praying for each of you today – that you will find Him there for you when going through your own journey of questions and trials. That you will spread out the roots of your own “tree” and find a rich supply of living water waiting for you there – never ending – refreshing – pure and satisfying. As you stay close to the source. As you stay close to Him.