In my young(er) days I dabbled in BMXing – where you use those little 20” bikes to jump ramps and objects while putting your parents in a constant state of worry. It takes skill, balance, strength, and control to be able to fly through the air, while on a bicycle, and properly land without breaking your neck. However, there is a surefire way to ensure you don’t land the jump right-side-up with 2 wheels on the ground…
Take a look at the heads of each one of these bmx riders. What do you notice?
Every rider is spotting his landing – from the moment they leave the launch ramp or platform they are planning how and where they are going to land. Whether they are spinning, flipping, or twisting, their eyes remain in the direction of the landing. Any rider will tell you that to begin a rotation while jumping a bmx bike, you start with your head and then your body follows.
The riders aren’t looking back. They aren’t being distracted by the people/crowds to the sides of them. They know that the second they lose focus they increase the chances of crashing and injuring themselves.
But, even if they do screw up a trick, they press on. One mess up doesn’t necessarily determine the outcome of their run or their score. There are chances to recover. Their final score is the sum of their run.
The difference a chapter makes: Elijah
I’m reminded of the contrasting stories of Elijah in 1 Kings 18 and 1 Kings 19. In 1 Kings 18, Elijah is on fire for God. He is courageously proving 450 false prophets wrong by showing Baal to be a false god. The glory of God is being revealed to the people of Israel through a visible display of power – fire (because God is pretty epic like that). But then in 1 Kings 19, after Ahab told Jezebel everything Elijah had done (killed the false prophets and made a fool of “Baal” and everyone who believed that nonsense), Jezebel threatens Elijah’s life.
Elijah ran and hid for his life!
What happened to Elijah to cause him to lose focus? He had just witnessed how powerful God was, yet he didn’t trust that God could protect him from Jezebel’s “threat”? Perhaps Elijah expected an immediate change-of-heart from the kingdom – an immediate positive outcome to the situation. His expectations were shattered.
How often are we “Elijah”? We see God’s faithfulness in one area of our life and we’ve resolved to trust him.. But then in another area, where there isn’t an immediate positive outcome, we won’t give God that trust – we hang on and try to do it ourselves.
I’ve found that I’m closer to God when I have no control over a situation. So, quite naturally, when things are going well, God takes a back seat to the enjoyment and pleasure I find in things or relationships “just happening” or that I think I’m controlling.
And that infuriates me.
Hosea 14:4 says:
“I will heal their waywardness. and love them freely, for my anger has turned away from them.”
I am so thankful I have a God who cares enough for me to wake me up and pull me out of a temporary “spiritual slump” where the focus on the “prize” has waned and other things or people have captured more of my attention.
“A second chance is heavens heart. Countless second chances we’ve been given at the cross”
Philippians 3:14 says:
“I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.”
In order to get to the professional level that those bmxers above have achieved, and like any athlete, they relied on trainers, mentors, and each other to push them harder and further.
In as much as we can be distracted by people who are not of a like mindset – and who keep us stagnant – or worse yet, bring us down – we can be encouraged by those who DO believe what we believe AND live it out and love us enough to encourage us and call us out.
Take a look at the following verses:
Proverbs 27:17 says;
“As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another.”
2 Timothy 2:2 says
“And the things you have heard me say in the presence of many witnesses entrust to reliable people who will also be qualified to teach others.”
Proverbs 1:5 says:
“Let the wise hear and increase in learning, and the one who understands obtain guidance.”
Those are just a few of many examples of the Biblical importance of being surrounded by fellow Christians – including older and wise(r) people who can help you stay focused.
As I was writing this I came across a song called “We Will Never Give Up” by Sanctus Real which goes along perfectly with the idea of what I was thinking about while writing!
We will not lose hope
When all we see is fading
We trust in what we know
We will never give up
Pressed on every side
Praying for escape
We will fix our eyes on the One who will last forever
We will hold on tight to the only real treasure
We will not lose heart
We will not lose hope
We will give our lives to the One who will last forever
We were all given talents and abilities. Some of us were made to do something very specific. Some of us have an idea of where we might be used. Some of us have no clue yet. Regardless of how specific your calling is, there is so much in life to distract us from what we were meant to do or cloud our purpose and reasoning for doing what we do.
If you believe your primary purpose in life, as a new creation in Christ, is to be a living witness of the gospel and to what God can redeem through His Son, and you’re living that out wherever you are, than you’re fulfilling your first calling. The rest of life is just details.
In Romans 15:13 Paul makes a timeless exhortation to believers:
“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.”
While God has given me a glimpse of where I might go and what I might do, I don’t yet see how the dots are going to connect. But, day by day, I’m focusing on walking in faith on the hope of the promises of God – that what He’s placed on my heart to do, and who He has called me to do it with, will one day be revealed, and that He gets all the glory in the story so that others may see His faithfulness.