This week I was having trouble focusing on getting the work done I needed to get done on a writing project and as if on cue, God brought a memory to mind with the lesson that He wanted me to understand. He reminded me of a day that I took our dog Oliver on a run with me. Ollie especially loved to run on the trails with me because, well, he is a hunting dog and what hunting dog doesn’t like to be in the woods where there are so many wild animals? On this particular day, those animals were out and visible everywhere. Squirrels, chipmunks, rabbits and even deer and they would dart across the path and Oliver would follow. Zig zagging all over the path was making it difficult for me to run and my shoulders were starting to feel the effects of suddenly being pulled in one direction and then another. When you run trail, it is very important that you keep your eye on the path in front of you so that you don’t trip and fall over a tree root or some other hidden object on your path but Oliver was making it difficult for me to keep my focus. As we came around to the front part of the trail, where there was parking and where people usually gathered to begin their hike or run, I glanced up quickly and saw a friend loading her dogs into the back of her car. She must have been ahead of me on the trail. I wasn’t the only one that saw her and her dogs! Not only were my eyes on my friend but Oliver’s eyes were locked onto her dogs. Neither one of us were paying attention to the path before us and guess what happened? Oliver drifted in front of me on the path and came to a complete stop. I didn’t come to a complete stop until I was flat on the ground after toppling over Oliver and in front of everyone entering the trail. Now Oliver was fine as he graciously and quickly moved out of the way as I was falling down; what a gentleman, but I popped up with blood running down my leg and elbow and a very bruised ego.
Now I thought back to that line about taking your eyes off of the path before you. God tells us that we need to keep our eyes “fixed on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith.” With our eyes fixed on him, we are then to “run with perseverance the race marked out for us,” but what happens when we take our eyes off, when we shift our focus? We stumble! Jesus is the light that illuminates our path so that we can see clearly the obstacles that could cause us to stumble. (John 8:12). John 1:9 calls Jesus “the true light that gives light to every man.” When we become consumed with what the world offers for us to do, our eyes no longer have the light to light our way and we open ourselves up to stumbling. Jesus tells us in John 11:9, “Are there not twelve hours of daylight? A man who walks by day will not stumble, for he sees by this world’s light. It is when he walks by night that he stumbles, for he has no light.” When we begin to move through life in darkness; with our eyes focused on the things of this world, we will be likely to stumble. Jesus told his disciples (and he tells us) in John 12:35, “You are going to have the light just a little while longer. Walk while you have the light, before darkness overtakes you. The man who walks in the dark does not know where he is going. Put your trust in the light while you have it, so that you may become sons of light.” Life is so short and I have very little time to complete the tasks that Christ has entrusted me with for his Kingdom, so if I get my focus on and fix my eyes on the “light”, I will finish strong and hear him say “well done Lisa, my good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!” (Matthew 25:23 – my name inserted). How is the lighting on your path? Are you running with confidence on a well lit path with little distraction or are you stumbling in darkness? Fix your eyes on Jesus and get your focus on!