Monday Morning Devotion-February 6, 2023
Keep Your Eye on the Ball
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 12:2-3.
This devotion comes from a few years back. You can tell because TLS (The Lovely
Susette) was playing tennis. These days she is relegated to a little tamer game…Pickle Ball “)!
TLS was getting frustrated with her tennis game. She had brought it along a little at a time and was playing much better than when she started playing with her friends a while back. But, now for some reason she was either mis-hitting some easy shots or missing them all together.
I had not seen her play in a while, because the only time I went out to play with her I tripped, trying to make a shot, and fell face first on the concrete. One trip to the emergency room, a fair amount of lost blood, and five stitches later I decided it might be a while before I got back on the tennis courts.
I was able to offer this basic piece of advice to Susette, based on my knowledge of the most fundamental principle in any sport played with a ball: "Keep your eye on the ball, all the way until you see it hit your racket (bat, golf club, whatever)." Looking up to see where the ball is going before you actually make contact with it is one of the biggest mistakes a participant in a sport can make. Because where you are looking is not where it is going if you don't first make solid contact. She took my advice and got her game back on track.
I think the quote: "See ball, hit ball" was first attributed to Pete Rose who had 4,256 hits while playing in the Major Leagues. Pete was once asked about the secret of his hitting success. I'm sure the interviewer expected some long-complicated answer explaining his theory on having a level swing, generating bat speed and running fast. His answer was: "It's simple. See ball, Hit ball."
Of course, the key is seeing the ball all the way until contact is made. And that is a life lesson. We often look ahead so far that we don't see what is happening right now. You can't start a trip by just getting in the car and instantly being at your destination. You have to concentrate on the driving. Following the route, staying alert and observing the rules of safe driving all the way until you pull into the desired place. No texting. Observing the speed limit. Watching out for the other guy, who may not be watching what he or she is doing.
OK, enough preaching about car safety. :) But the main thing is the best way to get anywhere in life is to keep focusing on the main thing. Turning our eyes on Jesus. He has been there, done that. He has endured the most agony and betrayal imaginable.
The refrain from the song by Helen Lemmel, written in 1922, and based on Hebrews 12:2, says it well:
"Turn your eyes upon Jesus
Look full in His wonderful face
And the things of earth will grow strangely dim
In the light of His glory and grace."
When we follow the advice of the song then we don't worry about what's ahead, immediately or in the distant future. We see Him first and he directs the ball where it is supposed to be hit. Don't be surprised if it sails right over the fence for a home run, or lands in an area where your tennis opponent can't return it.
His plan is to clear the way for you and direct you where you should be headed. But first you have to look at Him. If you are concentrating on other things you can't focus on the ball, i.e. Him. You have to make contact with Him before you can execute the best plan, take the right route, or hit the ball solidly
It takes faith to focus on Jesus first, not the problem. Like trying to sneak a peek as to where your opponent, across the net, is positioned in tennis so you can hit it where he/she is not standing and can't get to it. The problem is you have to hit the ball first and if you don't watch it all the way to the racket you won't have the accuracy in your return shot to accomplish your objective.
When we start focusing entirely on the problem that lies ahead of us it can seem awfully big, maybe even insurmountable. Our first step is to "turn our eyes upon Jesus." He is "the way, the truth and the life. He has the plan. He has the answers."
Simple, huh! About as simple as "see ball, hit ball" right? Well, no it is not always that simple. There are distractions that occur. Things that preoccupy our minds and take the focus off of where it should be to begin with so that we can start out right. If we start out wrong then it is going to take some adjustments before we get there.
It's kinda like with the GPS in our car. We may set it as we start out on a trip and then along the way decide to take a little bit of a different route than the GPS is directing us to stay on. Maybe our way is more scenic, or that is a town or scene on this side route we want to see that Mr. or Ms. GPS is not aware of. I mean after all, it's our car, our trip, we can change our mind if we want to.
We have had to turn the sound off on our GPS unit before because it's almost like the voice on it panics when we don't take its original route. It starts trying to get us to make U-turns, left-turns, immediate roads not on the route, so we can turn around and get us back on the route it prefers.
Eventually the GPS will show "redirecting" and it will re-route us from the way that we have chosen to go and still get us to the destination we chose to begin with.
Now that can happen when we take our eyes off of Jesus. We may start down a route that is not the optimum one for reaching our destination. He lets us go and we eventually learn that
it was not the best route after all. There was construction or lots of traffic or we just got lost.
Fortunately, the Lord is not only in the re-routing business but the forgiving business as well. He doesn't write us off because we took our eyes off Him, went off and did something foolish. He is always there for us. He will get us back on track. And once again we learn it is best to fix our eyes upon Him because: "He is the author and perfecter of our faith."
Monday Prayer: Lord, may we stay focused on you as you continue to write our story and perfect our faith. Amen!