Keep Your Eye on the Ball

In the summer of 1992, I watched a girl from Oklahoma, Shannon Miller, rise to the lead in the individual gymnastics competition at the Olympics and then win her medals.
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In the summer of 1992, I watched a girl from Oklahoma, Shannon Miller, rise to the lead in the individual gymnastics competition at the Olympics and then win her medals. They interviewed her coach and did a story on his coaching career and style.

As I watched her performance and his coaching from the sidelines, I noticed one very important thing that he continually did for her and her teammates. He kept them focused on what they were doing. He continued to talk to them from the sidelines, shout encouragement, clap his hands but what he was really doing was helping them to tune out the noise and music coming from the other events, eliminating distraction from the applause and cheers of the crowd, and focus in on what they had come there to do.

This is usually the secret of success in any sport or enterprise: focusing on what you are doing. "Keep your eye on the ball" is what good instructors and batting coaches teach their players. Keep your eye on that margin of profit, businessmen are told. Learn to find and keep your finger on the pulse is the main instruction given to those who are learning CPR.

In Colossians 3:1-4, Paul, a spiritual coach, tells us what we, as Christians, need to focus on. He writes:

1Therefore if you have been raised up with Christ, keep seeking the things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. 2Set your mind on the things above, not on the things that are on earth. 3For you have died and your life is hidden with Christ in God. 4When Christ, who is our life, is revealed, then you also will be revealed with Him in glory.

Basically he is saying that if you are a Christian, you are going to go to heaven. Keep your eye focused there. This life will provide many distractions in the form of riches or troubles, the pleasures of youth and the problems of growing old and dying. But throughout all of this, in order to win the prize we must keep our eye on our eventual resurrection and final destination in heaven.

In addition, Paul explains how we stay focused on our goal in the last part of chapter 3. Basically, he says three things. In order to keep our eyes on heaven, we need to

  1. Deal with the sin in our lives on a daily basis (Colossians 3:5-11). Do not let sin blind you, to the point where you cannot see heaven anymore.
  2. Develop a loving and submissive attitude towards each other in the church and those outside the body (Colossians 3:12-15). This helps get your eyes off of yourself.
  3. Learn to continually be thankful for everything in your life (Colossians 3:15b-17). It keeps your vision clear.

Shannon won and I felt a surge of pride every time they mentioned her name and her hometown on international television. More importantly, I hope we win the prize that is set before us, and we will, if we keep our eyes focused on heaven no matter what.

How? Deal with sin, grow in love and be thankful.

That's it for today. God bless you as you keep your eyes focused on things above, not things below.

Discussion Questions

  1. What do you do differently when you need to focus? How could you improve?
  2. What weakness seems to take your focus off of heavenly things and rest on earthly things? How can you improve?
  3. What advice would you give to a new Christian just beginning their walk in Christ?
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