There is a well-known saying in sports that all athletes hear from their coaches. It does not matter what sport you’re playing as long as receiving a ball is involved. A coach will always tell his players “keep your eye on the ball!” He wants them to be focused on what is important and he knows that once you take your eye off the ball you risk the possibility of not making the catch or getting the pass. When a quarterback throws the ball to a receiver he does it with a purpose, which is that the team can advance in yardage for a first down or a touchdown. In basketball a player passes the ball to his teammate so that he can pass it to the open team player or make the shot himself. In both instances keeping one’s eye on the ball may help the team win the game or put them in great position to do so.
When a player gets too anxious, feels intimidated or scared of what might happen or could happen, he usually misses the throw or the pass. It is likely to go right through his hands and may result in the loss of a down or an open shot. But if the player catches it, then it could lead to a touchdown or a first down that will help the team get closer to the goal line, or take the last shot to win the game with three seconds left on the clock. Of course, that is dramatic but is also a very good possibility.
So, the coach instructs the player to “keep your eye on the ball!” and make the play. In our spiritual life we also have to keep our eyes focused on the Creator of all things. We have to keep our eye on the ball. In other words, we have to keep our heart fixed on God at all times. How many times do we miss the throw from God because we are anxious about what is coming next or intimidated by the size or our problems! Hebrews 12:2 says “Keep your eyes on Jesus, who both began and finished this race we’re in. Study how Jesus did it. He never lost sight of where he was headed – that exhilarating finish in and with God. He was able to put up with anything along the way – cross, shame, whatever. And now He’s there, in the place of honor, right alongside God.”(Message Bible). I love the way this version puts this verse. “Keep your eyes on Jesus…”
Some time ago my best friend took me bungee jumping as a birthday treat. He did not tell me where we were going until we got there. I remember getting all harnessed up and going up a long flight of stairs – going up, and up and up and up until I got to the top, which was very high. I remember being a bit hesitant about jumping. The assistant who accompanied me up told me to make sure I kept my eyes on him, so that I would jump and not back out. As he did the count-down for me to jump I had to stop him a couple of times. You see, I took my eyes off him and looked down and as a result felt anxious about what might happen and about getting hurt. After a few tries he gave me an ultimatum: “You either jump this time or we go back down.” I decided that I would not take my eyes off of him and just jump. So he began the count-down again. Three, Two, One, Zero! I remember just jumping off the platform. As I fell I began to yell my lungs out but could not hear a thing. As I reached the end of the bungee rope I was pulled right back up and soon realized my scream was right behind me, because I met it on my way up. This happened about three more times until I was done bouncing up and down.
I would not have jumped it if I had not fixed my eyes on my assistant. It is the same with our spiritual life. We are bombarded by so many problems, so many issues, and so many things that make life difficult and often we take our eyes off the ball. If we keep our eyes focused on Jesus, that is, if we have faith in God and trust Jesus, then we know that no matter what we go through He is always there for us. We must study how He, Jesus, did it. He did it with constant prayer and lots of faith in His Father. He never lost sight of His focus and where He was headed. In the same way we need to know that we are headed towards eternity and that we are not alone in this journey. We have the Creator in our corner. Keep your eye on the ball! Keep your eye on Jesus!