I’ve always been a big gun lover and I believe that was picked up by my sons. I hunted as a child, youth, and adult, and even though the ministry keeps me from hunting as much as I like, I still like it. I remember my sister’s husband Ralph Smith taking me out hunting and showing me the basics of what it means to be responsible, and of course, a good shooter. He showed me how to aim my rifle and remain steady as I focused on my target and then squeeze the trigger to complete the hunt. I killed my first deer at age 12 and at the time felt like I was lucky to hit it. It was a day I will never forget. I remember the sound of the rustle of leaves that I had heard all morning, but this sound was louder. I was sitting on a tree stump thinking the sound was from a fat squirrel and not a real deer. To my surprise, over the hill came a beautiful deer just trotting along. I gathered myself and slowly raised the gun to my shoulder and that’s when it happened. My hearing stopped working!! I distinctly remember hearing all the noise of the wind, the leaves, and of course, my shivering. But at the moment I realized it was time to take the shot, all of my hearing ceased as I focused on my target. After pulling the trigger it was like I could hear again. It was so strange, but at that moment I realized what it meant to be single-minded. I didn’t think about my growling stomach, my cold feet, my doubts of whether I could pull the trigger, or what was going to happen when I shot. My mind was on one thing, the target. I wish I could apply that same principle to my Christian life more and more every day. You know, not let the ya ya’s of the world distract me from my true purpose, serving Christ. Oh I’m still capable of “doing ministry” but the distractions too many times get me off subject and great focus becomes nominal focus.
In the movie Robin Hood, Kevin Costner is trying to turn a ragtag group of commoners into fighting soldiers to be able to face the wicked Sheriff of Nottingham. One of the boys is shooting his bow and hits a bulls eye. He shoots again, but this time Robin Hood tickles his ear when he is shooting and the arrow goes awry. Costner makes the statement that it’s easy to shoot straight without distractions, but can you still shoot straight with distractions. It’s a good point for Christians to ponder in the midst of so many distractions in our world today. If we are going to be single minded in our approach to serving Christ, what must take place? Since we are part of the army of the Lord, training is necessary to get to the point of handling battle situations. We need training.
Paul in some ways was doing the continued training of God’s army by the instructions he shared with those of The Way. In writing to one of his young soldiers, Timothy, he shares some very important insights about being single minded. In 2 Timothy 2:1-4. He says, “Be strong” in verse 1, but not just “be strong.” He says, “Be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus.” If we try to be strong in our own power, we will fail every time. As believers we must realize our only strength is found in the Lord. Grace is the “freedom element” that keeps us from letting our past failures weaken our future efforts. In other words, sin doesn’t rule us anymore, but it also doesn’t control our future. That feeling of freedom is beyond description. In the movie Chariots of Fire, it told the story of runner Eric Liddel who said “I believe God made me for a purpose, but He also made me fast. And when I run I feel His pleasure.” That is a pretty good illustration of standing strong and running in the freedom of Jesus. You know He is your strength, so that frees you up to do His will. Sounds awesome doesn’t it? That’s because it is. There is one more factor that makes the single minded lifestyle come alive in us. FOCUS. Too many times we allow side issues and temporal setbacks to pull us out of focus. Distractions take us away from God’s original intent for our life and we begin to drift away little by little. The noise of life captures our attention and then the focus that was so clear becomes fuzzy and weak. Paul gives Timothy the tough news of what he needs to do to remain single minded and focused. He shares with Timothy that he needs to be willing to suffer for the cause of Christ, just like Paul himself was doing at that time. Part of that suffering seems to be letting the petty things of life fall to the wayside and get more focused on what His purpose is in life. Here’s what happens. When we focus solely on Christ and His commission for our life we start to see more and more things that weren’t visible to us when we lived a nominal, fuzzy faith. Those new things spark us onward to more pursuits for God and our vision becomes more and more like God’s vision. That impacts everyone we meet. Why? Because of your focus being on what is important. On the other hand, if we look down the sights of life and keep looking away and just “fire” we may never hit the target, and may hit other targets that hurt the cause of Christ. It’s one or the other. No in-between!! Sorry…..that’s just the truth….for you and for me.
If you have lost your focus, then turn around and head the other direction. Begin to spend more truthful, quality time with the Lord. Do a “life check” and see where your problem lies and then ask God to help you deal with it. Put some spiritual Visine in those tired “ole world viewpoint eyes” and let God clear them up. Pick up your weapon and make sure it is ready to fire, then look through the sights and see what God is showing you. When it comes into focus it will probably be different than you thought…..then fire! When your focus is back on track, then you will hit “God’s Target” for your life every time. Come on Robin Hood. When are you going to get back into the battle of life and start defeating the evil Sheriff of Nottingham, known as satan? Training begins today and the battle is raging.
Ready, Aim, FIRE!!!
The Pilgrimage continues…