Keep your eye on the ball
Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.
The Royal Observatory in Greenwich in London has the oldest surviving time ball in the world. A time ball is an old fashioned but accurate time signalling device. It consists of a large painted wooden or metal ball that is mounted on a tower or high building. At exactly 13:00 the ball drops to signal the time. They were used to signal accurate time to ships and for captains to set their chronometers by. The phrase “keep your eye on the ball” comes from the practice of watching the ball and setting a ships chronometer accordingly, which is essential in determining longitude and navigating successfully. The time ball was an independent, consistent and unchanging source of time by which all passing vessels could reset their time and set a course. Without regularly checking the accuracy of the ships time, the vessel could easily drift off course and miss its destination or run into a difficult and dangerous course.
Hebrews 12:3 says that we are to “fix our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of our faith” Like the sailors that set their equipment by the time ball, we need an external source to set our lives by and take our direction from. Left to our own devices we very easily drift off course and find ourselves in troubled waters because we have nothing to help us navigate through life and make the right choices. I know from my own life that when I have taken my eyes off Jesus, stopped reading his word, praying and spending time in his presence, and neglected meeting with fellow believers, I have wandered off course and found myself in difficult circumstances of my own making.
This is not to say that that we won’t face difficulty if we are staying on course with Jesus. In fact, we are promised hardship and persecution if we follow him, but in the midst of those storms and turbulent waters we will not lose our way and end up shipwrecked on the rocks, because we will know and who we are in Christ and have out eyes fixed on our eternal destiny that is beyond this earthly life and any hardship we may face. Just like Jesus who endured the cross, we will be able to endure the storms to receive the ”joy set before us” and “ will not grow weary and lose heart”.
Despite what the world tells us, we are not masters of our own destiny and setting our own path in life and deciding our own destination leads us nowhere. It may seem madness to many to set your life course upon the Jesus, and base your decisions on the teaching of the Bible and the guidance of the Holy Spirit. Onlookers may consider it very restrictive in a world where tolerance, subjectivity and permissiveness are so dominant, but without an external source against which to check our direction, we will be blown around by the winds of change and end up getting lost, broken on the rocks, or sinking without hope.
As C.S. Lewis says.
“Aim at Heaven and you will get Earth ‘thrown in’: aim at Earth and you will get neither.”
Pray that God will help you to fix your eyes upon his son Jesus Christ and keep you from getting lost in the storms that life throws at us.