And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith.Hebrews 12:1–2
Recently I was listening to a podcast on NPR’s Hidden Brain called “The Mind’s Eye.” There was discussion about the intense focus of certain elite athletes. One very successful marathon runner, for example, picks an object in front of her when she is running and focuses on it to the exclusion of all else until she passes it. One research team found that study participants who were told to focus very hard on the finish line—as opposed to looking around normally—not only perceived the distance to be shorter but also exerted less physical energy getting there.
Focusing on a goal and not allowing ourselves to be distracted is a strategy that can help us to be successful in many aspects of life.
Recent findings about the importance of focus echo the wisdom of the Bible. The author of the book Hebrews writes, “Let us fix our eyes on Jesus” (Hebrews 12:2 NIV). The importance of these words is illustrated powerfully in the story of Jesus walking on water. Peter was able to walk on water while he was moving towards Jesus. But when Peter lost focus and looked around, he began to sink. He cried out, and Jesus rescued him (Mark 14:22–33).
The distracting waves around Peter were very real . . .
Jesus’s presence did not make them go away . . .
Jesus didn’t want Peter to pretend the waves weren’t there . . .
They were there!
Peter succeeded in his goal of moving towards Jesus—even though there were waves—as long as he kept his focus on the Lord.
I believe an aspect of fixing our eyes on Jesus is remembering that he desires our spiritual success. He wants it so much that he gave his life for us. What’s more, his work on our behalf is not just in the past. He is alive now. The writer to the Hebrews proclaims:
“Consequently, he is able to save to the uttermost those who draw near to God through him, since he always lives to make intercession for them.”Hebrews 7:25
Are there distractions that make it hard for you to fix your eyes on Jesus?
How are you able to shift your focus back to him?