Have you ever wondered how a gymnast stays on the balance beam? She keeps her eyes on one spot at the end of the beam. Not down. Not around. Not even where her foot is supposed to land. Her eyes must stay glued to the end of the beam. Every action relies on this determined focus.
I used to put a bean bag at the end of the beam during preschool gymnastics classes to start training this singular focus into the tiny tots. I’d tell them, “if you’re afraid, don’t look down. Just keep your eyes on that green bean bag. Do you see it?” As they grew, I would purposely try to distract them by talking to them or tapping on the beam near their feet. Absolute focus is required for safety. No matter what happens, a gymnast must keep her eyes on that one spot at the end of the beam.
If only I could train myself to have this singular focus in my life! Just keep your eyes on the end of your life. Keep your focus on God in heaven. Never take your eyes off God because He holds your life in His hands. Safety lies in Him and Him alone.
Yet, I easily get distracted by so many things. Most of the time, what distracts me will only matter here on earth. What I spend my time and energy on, what I think or worry about, usually is preoccupied by those things that won’t even exist when I get to heaven.
What did you do yesterday?
Think about it. What did you do yesterday? Try to list the things that you did or thought about yesterday. Just do a run-down of your day – something like this:
- Coffee for me, breakfast for my son, prayer time
- Clean up breakfast
- Get ready for the day, pack my lunch, get dressed
- Check the calendar, appointments and phone calls, tasks required
- Study the Bible, write Bible study lesson
- Check and respond to emails
- Eat lunch and check social media
- Check to see if the lawn got mowed and weeds pulled
- … (you get the idea)
What did you worry about yesterday?
How about a list of what worried you yesterday:
- How my son was handling high school
- What the doctor would say about an issue
- Whether the money would come in so we could pay our bills
- When we were going to get the new stove because the old one doesn’t work
- Whether my son needed new shoes
- How my parents were handling the day (it was my brother Mark’s birthday and he’s in heaven; so, it’s a tough day)
Most of the items on these lists will have no place in heaven, nor do they shift my focus to God or help me seek the kingdom of God. These lists are just regular, ordinary daily “stuff.”
We all have lists like these. It’s called LIFE. Yet, when we read Matthew 6, we can hear how these things should not be a distraction to us. The things of this world – approval from others, tangible items, food, clothing – should not be our focus. Yes, we need to take care of ourselves and our families. Yes, we need to be good stewards of the blessings God gives us.
What did Jesus say about our daily focus?
Yet, our hearts and minds should keep a singular, determined focus on God. No matter what happens, our hearts and minds need to be turned towards heaven.
Check out this bullet list of points from Matthew 6. Keep in mind that Jesus was teaching these things. The list below is my summary or paraphrase:
- Do not practice righteousness, prayer, or fasting to be noticed by others; seek only the notice or approval of God for these things
- If you do things for others’ notice or approval, then you have your reward in full (but no reward from God)
- No meaningless repetition in prayer
- The Lord’s prayer: Our Father who is in heaven, hallowed be Your name. Your kingdom come. Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our debts as we also have forgiven our debtors. And do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from evil. For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever.
- Forgive others, then your Father in heaven will forgive you
- Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven; for where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.
- No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and wealth.
- Do not be worried about what you will eat or what you will drink; nor for your body, as to what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing?
- Look at the birds … lilies of the fields… how much more do you matter to God?
- And who can add a single hour to his life by worrying?
- The unbelievers seek all these things
- Your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. Seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.
- So do not worry about tomorrow; tomorrow will care for itself.
I feel like God is tapping the end of the balance beam . . . “Daughter, don’t look around. Keep your eyes on me. Do you see Me? Focus! I am here. Look to Me and the rest will be taken care of. Are you scared? Just keep looking at Me. You are safe with Me.”
I think I’m going to order some bean bags and place them around my house to remind me to keep my focus on God!