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Keeping Your Eye On the Ball

 

We lived in a house for twenty-five years, and there was this little bare spot in the grass in our backyard. It was there since our boys were little. That was the first home plate they ever knew. Yes, that's where I taught them their first lessons in how to play baseball. Now our yard wasn't very big, so we had to start with a plastic bat and that little white plastic ball called a wiffle ball. But as I pitched and the boys learned to swing, there was one lesson I tried to permanently tattoo on their brain. It was the lesson my father taught me, that his father probably taught him, that somebody has taught every person who ever picked up a baseball bat. The most basic secret of success in sports...keep your eye on the ball!

 

I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "Keeping Your Eye On the Ball."

 

Actually, that's more than just the secret of success in sports-it's the secret of being a champion in life. In fact, there is a Father, your Heavenly Father, who is trying to coach you, His son or daughter, to keep-or get your eye back on-the ball. To train your energies on what really counts in this game.

In our word for today from the Word of God, Jesus makes it very clear what ball you and I need to keep our eye on and what's going to make us look away. Here's what He says in Matthew 6:31. "So do not worry, saying, 'What shall we eat?' or 'What shall we drink?' or 'What shall we wear?' For the pagans run after all these things (Excuse me, but that's where they think the ball is!), and your Heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well."

The problem with this is that there's so much pressure, so much pull to seek first the kingdom of earth, right? But we strike out on the things that really matter, the things that truly bring fulfillment when we start swinging at what almost everyone else is swinging at. Jesus said that the best of your time, the best of your energies, the best of your resources should be going into His agenda on earth...developing your love relationship with Jesus, reaching the lost, helping the hurting, helping the poor, building His church, and building the congregation you've got right there in your own family.

But maybe you've been distracted by other pursuits in the stadium and you've taken your eye off the ball. It might be your career, your material success, your work. Maybe they've become your primary passion and preoccupation. Business conquests, financial conquests, material security are the conquests you battle for the most-and frankly, it hasn't left much for the eternal conquests of the kingdom work of Jesus.

Maybe your money is largely tied up in a house, a car, a wardrobe, your retirement, your toys-instead of laying up for yourselves (What did Jesus say?) treasures in heaven. Maybe ego pursuits and material pursuits have become the arenas where you're trying to find your fulfillment and your identity more than in running for your Master's pleasure.

Today, maybe the Lord's saying to you, "My child, you're putting so much effort into climbing the wrong mountain." And, you know, you can't really win this way-not if you've taken your eye off the ball. Maybe you're playing hard, but you're not focused on the only thing that really counts-the Kingdom of God.

Like a father leaning over the child that he's coaching, your Heavenly Father is saying, "You're missing it, my son. You're missing it, my daughter. You've taken your eye off the ball." But the game isn't over and there's still time to turn this around.

You only get to play this game of life one time. If you want to hit a grand slam home run with the rest of the life, you listen to your Heavenly Coach: (Say it with me now.) "Keep your eye on the ball."