That’s my Ruthie, pedal to the metal and completely on her own for the first time. No help from dad, and definitely no training wheels. And while this could easily be one of my sappy posts about my kids, I’ll spare you…this time (we’ll just save that one for Hannah or Silas). No, let’s make this one about focus.
Look at that face…total concentration. She’s even got the MJ tongue going on, the quintessential look of athletic focus. She’s completely in the moment, focusing on one thing: keeping that bike going straight.
When she first started trying that day, I noticed she kept looking down at the pedals, or looking back at me, or looking around…everywhere but where she was going. I told her, “Ruthie, keep your eyes up! Look where you’re headed!” And she got it. After a few failed attempts, that kid was zooming up and down the street, grin as big as Texas!
How did she do it? She focused. She kept “her eyes on the prize.” She didn’t look to the left or to the right, she wasn’t worried about me or her sister. She focused on going straight ahead.
And it got me thinking. In our lives, we face a constant assault on our attention. In every situation, there are a thousand distractions seeking to pull our focus off whatever we are supposed to be focused on. And this is true from the smallest things in our lives to the greatest.
Especially the greatest.
“And thou shalt not go aside from any of the words which I command thee this day, to the right hand, or to the left, to go after other gods to serve them.” Deut. 28:14
How many “gods” vie for our attention, seeking to turn our attention to the right and to the left, anywhere but straight forward, anywhere but at Jesus. And it’s not always the obvious “gods” that succeed, the sins that so easily entangle us (though they certainly do their fair share). More often than not, it’s the subtle ones that get us.
It’s keeping so busy doing things for Jesus that we don’t actually spend any time with Jesus ourselves, a la Martha in Luke 10. Or we get so caught up in whatever ministry we are involved in that we forget Who we’re actually doing it for. Or we get our eyes on the people around us, more concerned with how they view us than how Jesus sees us.
So many things can divert our focus. It’s vital that we keep our eyes fixed straight ahead, not looking to the right or to the left. We need to take a cue from Ruthie: eyes straight ahead.