Posted by: Mike Willoughby | July 6, 2010

Focus!

Focus, Michael! 

Those were familiar words I heard from a succession of teachers throughout my elementary and junior high school years.  I had a tendency to let my attention drift toward pretty much any distraction inside or outside the classroom rather than focus on the teacher or the worksheet on my desk.  Furthermore, if a convenient distraction did not present itself, I could manufacture one in my head.  A mechanical pencil makes a pretty good spaceship for a 3rd grader who is not the least bit interested in learning how to add fractions!  However, I came to regret those distractions when test time came around.  Funny, I still prefer space ships to math!

Last week, I wrote about developing a Hi-Fi Faith that is focused on being true in thought and behavior to my perfect standard, Jesus Christ and accepting his grace when I fail to be a high fidelity believer.  This week, I’d like to follow up those thoughts with some practical ideas from the book of Hebrews on how to develop Hi-Fi Faith.  Interestingly, the words of my 3rd grade teacher ring in my ears as I read this passage:

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.  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.  Consider him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.  Hebrews 12:1-3

First, notice in the passage the caution to “throw off” the distractions that get in the way of the “race of faith” I am trying to run.  The imagery is powerful in this passage!  Imagine trying to run a race down a street littered with broken branches and fallen trees with a bunch of lengths of rope tied around your waist dangling around your ankles and with carry-on baggage in each hand.  Sounds like one of my trips through DFW airport trying to make a flight!  The author of Hebrews provided this visualization to help me understand how frustrated I should feel when I try to live a life of faith burdened down with distraction and sin.  No serious runner would attempt to run a race along a difficult course while encumbered by baggage and clumsy clothing.  A serious runner would throw the baggage down and rip off the restrictive clothes and run in shorts and a t-shirt so they could focus on winning the race.  This is exactly what I should do every day – get rid of the distractions and focus on the race!

Second, notice what the passage says about focus.  Once again, the author uses imagery to help us visualize the instructions.  Every marathon runner knows that you must keep the ultimate objective in mind as you run the course.  If you are focused only on the way you are feeling at the 12th mile of the run and all the different obstacles standing in your way to the finish line, you will certainly fail to complete the race.  Success only comes from focusing on the finish line and visualizing what it will feel like to cross that line and receive the medal, the affirmation of the crowd or simply the satisfaction of accomplishing the goal.  My friend, Ginny Darcy Selec understands this as well as anyone I know.  Ginny became a serious marathon runner when raising money for the fight to cure ALS.  Her brother Trey, suffered from ALS and even though he has gone to heaven to take his place in the crowd of witnesses, Ginny still runs in support of the fight for a cure.  Ginny runs for Trey!  I know when the pain of mile 12 starts to create doubt and distraction, Ginny casts off those doubts and distractions as she focuses on Trey.  She crosses the finish line for him.

This is how we should run our race.  We have a cheering section providing spiritual encouragement and waiting for us at the finish line.  We have the route mapped out for us in the Bible and we have coaches who help us navigate the course.  We are motivated through faith to run the course as perfectly as possible.  Most importantly, we must keep the ultimate runner in mind as we run the course of life.  He ran the course perfectly so that we could follow after him.  He picks us up when we fall, sets us back on course and he waits for us at the finish line to take us to our resting place in the crowd of witnesses.

Focus, Michael! 

Fix your eyes on Jesus!  That is the formula for a Hi-Fi Faith.

Until next week,

Meet me at the intersection!


Responses

  1. Outstanding Michael! Your message inspires me. Thanks for using your talent to be a blessing in my life. May God get the glory.

  2. WOW, I feel honored to have made your intersection! Thank you!!


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