Most of us are captivated by watching sports. Count the number of channels and programs that embellish the actions and performance of athletes. Slow-motion replays and exceptional commentators explore every nuance of the distractions that cause a player to misplay a ball or error in some way.
How often have you heard a football commentator or a coach talk about a player missing a catch or handoff because he took his eyes off the ball? A good receiver “looks the ball” into his hand—his gaze is so fixed on the spiraling leather that a defender hitting him seems like a distant possibility. With a similar focus, the running back charges to the line of scrimmage, relying upon the quarterback’s eyes and timing to carefully spot the ball into the pocket created with the runner’s arms or hands. If for a split second he allows the movements or motions of the defender to distract him the ball could be dropped.
It is critical to the ultimate success of a football player to have excellent hand-eye coordination. Even defensive linemen have their special eyes-on-the-ball drill in order to help them become better focused. Mike Waufle, former defensive line coach for the Oakland Raiders, New York Giants, and L.A. Rams, utilized a painted green football connected to a long string as an aid to help his linemen focus on the ball’s movement. As he snatched the grass-colored ball from the turf, the linemen must carefully time their charge with any motion in it. “I like to see my linemen so focused on ball movement that they rivet their attention on the very tip of the ball,” he said. “Usually a player will pick up that the ball is being snapped when the tip of the ball begins to move.”
This split-second difference in a lineman picking up the snap can make the difference in delivering the attack or waiting for it to come to him. A lineman’s catlike quickness can be a positive factor only when he fixes his gaze on the ball.
During the three-plus years Jesus spent with His disciples, they witnessed many miracles. The apostle Peter was particularly impressed as he watched his Savior walk toward him on water. His immediate response was, “Lord, if it’s you, tell me to come to you” (Matthew 14:28). Peter was a lot like many of us—impulsively direct! He wanted to step out in faith and be with Jesus.
Jesus said, “Come.” Peter fixed his gaze upon the Lord and stepped onto the water. He did not walk around the boat or head off to a better fishing hole; he walked straight toward Jesus. What happened next to Peter is the same thing that happens to all of us when we take our focus off the Master—we sink, or in football vernacular, we fumble the handoff or drop the pass or mistime the snap. “But when [Peter] saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, ‘Lord, save me!’” (14:30).
Peter broke contact with Jesus the moment his gaze became fixated on the wind and the waves. Just like a receiver who becomes distracted with a defensive back closing in on him, his concentration was broken. Once we place our attention outside the object of our focus, we risk missing an opportunity to be successful.
When we are truly centered upon the Lord with our prayerful life, our worship, and our actions, He will handle our problems and help conquer our fears. The Holy Spirit makes us strong and able to walk boldly and with confidence (Proverbs 3:26). As we keep focused on Jesus, all else in our lives will be seen in proper perspective with less chance of a major fumble. No problem is too big—for He is always with us.
- What distracts you from keeping your focus on Christ?
- What do you need to do to reduce or possibly eliminate those distractions?
- Pray to God that He will help you identify the distractions in your life that need to be dealt with so that you can keep your eyes upon Him.
Jim Grassi, D. Min.