January 8, 2013
Focus Determines Direction
"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." Hebrews 12:2 (NIV 1984)
Focus is an interesting thing. A powerful thing. I believe it makes change possible.
I live in in North Carolina - home to NASCAR. I even drove a stock car once in a qualifying race at the Franklin County Speedway. So I've talked to a few race car drivers in my time. Here's what I learned from them: You have to focus on where you want to go.
Race cars move so fast that the slightest change in course - the slightest turn of the wheel - quickly produces big changes in your position on that track. Surprisingly, where you look can shift your body enough to turn the wheel just enough to send you in that direction. Even if that wasn't where you intended to go.
In other words, your focus determines your direction.
That's why race car drivers are taught never to look at the wall. Look at the wall and that is where you will end up - crashed.
I think that's also why the Bible spends so much time teaching us to keep our eyes on Christ. Because our focus determines our direction.
Do you recall the story of Peter when he saw Jesus walking on the water in Matthew 14:29 Peter climbed out of the boat and walked on the waves. As long as he focused on Jesus, he walked toward Him on the water. But as soon as Peter looked down at the wind-whipped waves beneath him, that's precisely where he ended up.
I wonder if our typical New Year's Resolutions aren't us looking at the wall, or down at the sea instead of us focusing on Christ. We make promises like "I'm going to lose weight," or "I'm going to get more organized." (I've made both those resolutions before.) Or maybe, "I'm going to stop this affair." And then our focus is on our weight, the mess, or the forbidden fruit.
Next thing we know, although it's not where we intended to go, we're sinking in calories or clutter once again. And we feel defeated. Crashed. Then we give up.
Thankfully, I've found a new way to do New Year's Resolutions that keeps me properly focused. Instead of making my long list of ways I plan to improve, I prayerfully choose just one word to be my focus for the entire year. Just one word that represents what I most hope Christ will do in or through me that year. One word to give me direction.
It's not a regret-based word but a vision-driven word centering on the kind of person I want to become. It keeps me looking forward and upward.
I pray that word, meditate on it, memorize verses with it, and use it to remind me to keep my eyes on Christ, trusting Him for transformation in that area of my life. And I've seen transformation take place!
Reading Hebrews 12:2-3 reminds us to take our eyes off ourselves and our circumstances - off the problem behaviors or the "walls" in our lives—and fix them squarely on Christ. Because our focus determines our direction.
Ultimately Christ is the perfecter of us and our faith. We can trust Him to turn our resolution into reality as we stay focused with our one word and with our eyes on Him.
Dear Lord, I want to fix my eyes squarely on You today. Help me see You at work in my life and in the forming of my heart. In Jesus' Name, Amen.
If you're looking for focus and direction this year, Rachel Olsen has written a new book with her pastor called My One Word: Change Your Life With Just One Word. Pick up a copy and learn how to walk through a year with Christ and your one word. Learn more at www.myoneword.org.
Reflect and Respond:
What "walls" in your life have you been looking at?
What can you do to remind yourself to keep your eyes on Christ? What word would help you maintain focus?
Psalm 105:4, "Look to the LORD and his strength; seek his face always." (NIV)
Romans 8:5, "For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit." (ESV)
© 2013 by Rachel Olsen. All rights reserved.
Originally published Tuesday, 08 January 2013.