Fixing Your Eyes on God

January 6, 2016

Recently, a pastor at another church spoke at a breakfast I attended. I was very interested in hearing what he had to say for two reasons. One, because I know people who attend his church and have very positive things to say about his messages. Second, he is a former goalie that played in the National Hockey League in the mid to late 80s. Hockey has been one of my favorite sports for almost 40 years, so the opportunity to meet and listen to this man was one I looked very much forward to.

As expected, his message was excellent. The most interesting and memorable part was when he talked about a time where he had great success the season before. As a result, he was awarded a lucrative contract. Expectations were highest for him at the start of the new season. However, for some reason, he couldn’t stop the puck anymore. In fact he said he couldn’t have stopped a beach ball. With all of these expectations, his confidence was lost, and he was playing worse than his pre-professional days. Finally, the captain of his team took him to dinner and described what he saw as the problem. He said that when the goalie was playing his best, it was because he never took his eyes off the puck. In fact, some teammates even laughed at how, when the referee was holding the puck and tossing it up and down, the goalie’s head was going up and down with the puck. That’s how focused he was! Sure enough, the next time he played, he kept his focus squarely on the puck and nothing else. As a result, the success he had had returned, and he helped take his team to a very high level.

Before I share my point, I will share one more story. One of my favorite movies of all time is Forrest Gump. I watched this movie again recently. I had forgotten that Forrest was a very successful ping pong player. It was simply because he was instructed to keep his eye on the ball and focus on nothing else. He followed the advice, and won international tournaments and received major endorsements as a result. All of this was because he did not take his eye off the ball at any time.

Where does this lead to my point? The heart of the pastor’s message with his hockey story was that our focus on God needs to be just like the professional goalie. The Bible even tells us to keep our eyes fixed on God to be the most we can be in this life. When we keep our eyes locked on God like the hockey puck or ping pong ball, instead of the distracting circumstances around us, that is when we receive our greatest blessings and successes in life. That is how we are a blessing to others. That is how we make the most out of the will and destiny that God has for us.

Sometimes it is not easy to avoid the distractions and obstacles. Especially now, hockey goalies have players trying to distract them mentally and physically, doing anything to prevent them from stopping the puck. It’s the same for us. I believe people on this earth and even the devil himself are trying to block our view and prevent us from focusing on God. These distractions may get some pucks past us. However, the more you keep focusing on God, keeping your eyes fixed on Him, the more successful you will be in avoiding the distractions, and leading you and those around you to victory.

So what is your choice today? For me, it’s to keep my eyes fixed on God and the greatness of His kingdom. If you make this choice, it won’t eliminate the negative situations. Some will hit you and hurt! However, it will lead you to the blessings God has intended for you. You will be victorious and experience the joy that was meant for you. After all, to use one more hockey term…that’s your goal! Enjoy the blessings 🙂

Nothing’s Gonna Stop Us

November 24, 2013

I was sharing some old hockey stories with my daughter the other day. She enjoys hearing these stories because she recently became a die-hard hockey fan herself and appreciates the present and past of this great game.

I grew up a New York Islanders fan (I still am very much a fan today). I became a fan at 10 years old (the same age my daughter is now). At that time in the mid 70’s, they were just getting good and growing into the championship team they became.

I shared some of this story with my daughter. The year was 1980. After two good, but not quite-there-yet seasons, the team won their first division title in 1978, and were the best team of the regular season in 1979. However, in both years they were knocked out of the playoffs early and did reach their championship goal.

In ’80, they started slowly as a discouraged and confidence-rattled team. They ended the regular season well, but the team had actually regressed a bit. That was until the playoffs began. All of a sudden, things came together, and this team started playing to their potential. Fast forward to the semi-finals. They had been here before, but had never advanced to the finals. Now they were one game away, playing in front of their home fans. This scene has stuck with me forever.

After all of the past losses and frustrating ends to seasons, everyone from players to fans just knew they were going to win this game. The fans cheered loudly through the national anthem and never stopped once the game started. Within one minute, the other team scored to go up 1-0. What happened? The fans cheered even louder, and the players played harder. After another minute, it was 2-0. Worried yet? The fans got even louder, and the players played even harder.

At that point the opposing team was stunned. Here they did everything right, yet they couldn’t stop the Islanders onslaught and couldn’t quiet the fans. After that, the Islanders scored 5 straight goals and won the game easily. They went on to win the championship that year, and the next three after that.

I apologize for the long story, but I refer to it often to prove a point. Nothing was stopping that team from achieving their goal. They KNEW they were going to win that game and accomplish it. Early obstacles stopped the progress momentarily, but it was only temporary before they reached the goal.

Things come up in life all the time that can frustrate and discourage us. However, I challenge you to take this same mentality. Focus so clearly and confidently on your goal that no one and nothing can or will stop you. Yes, the cheering in your head may be stopped momentarily, but if you absolutely know that nothing will stop you from getting to where you want to go and you KNOW without a doubt that you will get there, you will. Then you can savor your victory. Enjoy the blessings : )