February 28, 2021

Pastoral Nuggets: Focusing on the Wrong Thing

In the Olympics, there is a shooting sport that I really enjoy watching.

It is the 50-meter three-position air-rifle shooting event.

By the title, you can ascertain that the shooters have to shoot their targets from three different positions at a range of 50-meters.

Those shooters are so good that it is not good enough to simply score a 10; (or a bullseye) the bullseye is measured in tenths.

You can actually shoot a 10.1, 10.2, 10.3, 10.4, 10.5, etc., all with an air-rifle, mind you! That’s some serious BB Gun shooting!

In the 2004 Olympics, American Matt Emmons competed in this event. The competition had come down to the last shot. All Matt Emmons needed to do to win a Gold medal was simply hit the target with his final shot. He didn’t even need a bullseye.

All he needed to do was hit the target. It did not matter where he hit it; he just had to hit the target! His shot was scored an 8.1. This should have won him the gold medal.

However, in what is described as, “an extremely rare mistake in elite competition,” Emmons fired at the wrong target!  Standing in lane two – he fired at the target in lane three.  His score was good enough to win. But his focus was on the wrong target! Consequently, he finished in 8th place!

What we focus on goes an extremely long way in determining our success or failure. Matt Emmons focused on the wrong target and failed.

Everybody’s favorite underdog, Charlie Brown, figured out a way to be successful without focusing. He would go into the woods with his bow and arrow, shoot his arrow into a tree, and then paint a target around the arrow.

Lucy, who has the gift of encouragement, saw what Charlie Brown was doing and began to exclaim, “Charlie Brown! That’s not the correct way to do that!” To which Charlie Brown replied, “Yes, I know.  But if you do it my way – you never miss!”

Here is the truth I want to convey in today’s column: Focusing on the wrong thing(s) always prevents us from being all we were created and designed to become!

In other words, we cannot be successful while living a life that is out of focus! We find a poignant Biblical reminder of this in Isaiah 6:1.

Isaiah says, “In the year that king Uzziah died I saw also the Lord sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up, and his train filled the temple.”

I heard my friend, Pastor Terry Rainwater, of Highland Baptist Church in Hogansville, Georgia speak on this last week. We see where a cataclysmic event had happened in both the life of Isaiah and the Children of Israel. A beloved king had died.

But let me paraphrase what Isiah says: In the midst of calamity on every side, I stayed focused on the Lord!  In the middle of my horrific circumstances, I focused upon and saw God!

In 2020 we have witnessed, just to name a few things, a presidential impeachment trial, Australia burning, plagues of locusts, killer hornets, the Coronavirus, quarantines, social distancing and masks in public, schools and businesses closing, church buildings being closed, pastors being arrested for having church, medical care/procedures delayed, not being able to visit loved ones in the hospital, not being able to have funeral services, the collapse of the economy, shortages of toilet paper and hand sanitizer, exorbitant food prices, nationwide protest and looting, racism, sickness and death on every hand, and intolerance and hatred for anybody who happens to disagree with our point-of-view, at an all-time high!

And generally speaking, there is an ill-wind blowing across America today like I have never witnessed!

What then is our recourse? The answer is simple. We cannot be like Matt Emmons and focus on the wrong target. We cannot be like Charlie Brown and create our own targets. We must be like Isaiah, and remain focused on God in the midst of calamity!

Let us stop focusing on the wrong thing!

Brother Aaron

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