What do you suppose these three things have in common? They all bounce!
Do you remember jumping on a trampoline as a kid? I sure do. That feeling of almost flying as you bounced as high as you possibly could was amazing. When was the last time you felt that free, that unencumbered? Very few things in life give you that feeling of freedom that defying gravity while you soar upwards brings you. I’m not sure trampolines are still a big deal anywhere, but they invoke wonderful memories for me.
Then there is our friend the kangaroo, a truly extraordinary creature. They bounce along at incredible speeds. Did you know that for short sprints they get up to 44 mph, and on longer runs they can maintain a speed of 25 mph for up to a mile. All these while they are carrying little ones in the big front safety pouch. My mind is like a kangaroo sometimes. Jumping from thought to thought. I’m not a very focused individual and as thoughts bombard my brain, I mentally bounce all over the place and usually at a pretty high rate of speed.
Finally, there are red rubber balls. One of my favorite old 60’s song is named Red Rubber Ball. The singer laments his inability to stay away from his cheating girlfriend and keeps bouncing back to her like a red rubber ball. I sometimes feel like this is how I interact with God. I wander off mentally, physically or emotionally. Then when I finally come to my senses, I go bouncing back to him. Of course, there are some days when I feel like a kangaroo jumping on a trampoline trying to catch a red rubber ball! So much bouncing around. So many distractions.
Strangely, a distraction can be either a problem or a solution to the problem, if the problem is focus. I can be focused on writing this blog, then a simple wrong set of keystrokes and I am super distracted as my entire first draft just disappeared. Now my focus is irritation with myself for not paying more attention and the fact that I now have to recreate everything I had just written. Talk about annoying. That is exactly what happened. Then when I was redoing the entire blog, I had one more idea of a place to look and I found the first draft, or at least most of it. Hallelujah!!
On the other hand, a distraction can sometime bring me back into focus. For example, I start my morning by reading my Bible, selecting a daily Bible verse to share on Facebook, reading a few of my favorite devotionals and spending some time on a Bible Study. This is my most focused time of the day. However, as the day wears on I begin drifting out of focus. I start thinking about meals for the day, chores to done, errands to be run or what the weather will do today. Then, suddenly something will catch my attention and I realize how far my thoughts have drifted and I am able to go back and refocus with God at the center of my thoughts and plans.
Matthew’s gospel tells us a wonderful story about distraction. Peter sees Jesus walking across the water from the shore to the boat in which the disciples are waiting for him. Peter is super focused on Jesus and tells Jesus that if he will order Peter to come out to him on the water, he will do it. And sure enough, he gets out of the boat and starts walking on the water. Suddenly he was distracted by the strong winds blowing on the sea. He took his eyes off of Jesus and was frightened. He started to sink and cried out “Lord, save me!” And of course, Jesus did. But he asked Peter a very important question. “You who have so little faith, why did you doubt?”
How well can we answer that question? Why do we let distractions take our eyes away from the Savior? There’s another great scripture (actually there are 1000’s of them) in the Bible about how to focus. Also, in Matthew, “Therefore if you have been raised up with Christ, keep seeking the things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your mind on the things above, not on the things that are on earth.” Matthew 6:33. And the same words are echoed in Colossians 3:2 Philippians 4:8 gives us an expanded version of the same thought, “And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise.” Truly, if we keep our eyes on Jesus and our thoughts on heavenly things, life might just smooth out a bit for us. After all, if we are thinking about God and heavenly things, we don’t have any room to worry, about anything–which we are told we shouldn’t do anyway.
There is a verse in Matthew that asks us if we can add even a single hour to our lives by worrying. And the answer, of course, is no. So why do we worry? Well, partly because when our thoughts are bouncing all around we lose focus. Philippians 4:6 tells us “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.” So try to stop bouncing around; get off the trampoline, stop chasing kangaroos and give that red rubber ball to your dog. Stay focused on Jesus, he is “the way, the truth and the life” John 14:6.