Proverbs 4:25 Let your eyes look straight ahead; fix your gaze directly before you.
If you ever receive any sprint technique training or read about sprint mechanics you will generally hear fairly consistent feedback when it comes to your upper body position, including your shoulders, your arms, your head position and eyes. While sprinting is, by definition, the full-out explosion of power, to be an effective sprinter your upper body must be as efficient as possible, not wasting critical energy. Shoulders and chest must stay relaxed while your arms pump in a complementary fashion to your legs (“elbows and knees at 90 degrees” as the coaches will often say). Another key is the position of the head. You want to be sure to keep your chin level (too low and you restrict your breathing; too high and you lose efficiency) and any movement of your head, left or right, breaks your technique. To ensure proper head position, the key is to keep your eyes level. I’ve heard a coach tell his sprinters “I don’t want you looking back at your buddy or somebody you’re racing. I want your eyes straight ahead.”
Most running coaches probably don’t realize it, but they are giving some very Godly advice when they suggest you keep your eyes fixed straight ahead. We read this in today’s Proverbs 4 verse, and we find that even Paul gives the same advice. As he often did, the apostle Paul uses sporting analogies to describe Christian principles. He did so in his letter to the Hebrew church. “Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith.” (Hebrews 12: 1-2).
In a running race, there can be a lot going on around you: screaming fans; a competitor inching up on your shoulder; your body can be tightening or tiring. Likewise in the race of life, there are numerous things that can distract us from the prize: busyness, financial pressures, relational struggles, hardship, tragedy, or just general weariness. It is in these times that it is critical not to lose our form, and rather keep our eyes fixed on our savior Jesus Christ. When our eyes are away from Jesus, it seems that all of our problems are significantly larger, and our despair is deeper, however when we choose to fix our eyes on Jesus, he brings everything back into perspective.
Isaiah 54:10 says: “’Though the mountains be shaken, and the hills be removed, yet my unfailing love for you will not be shaken nor my covenant of peace be removed,’ says the Lord, who has compassion on you.” I picture a sprinter running down a 100m track during an earthquake where the lanes beside and behind them are crashing into the ground, but they don’t even notice and continue to sprint with their eyes looking straight ahead, running towards a smiling Jesus who stands with his arms wide open.
Whatever you are going through today, choose to fix your eyes on the pioneer and perfecter of your faith, your loving Lord Jesus Christ. In this place you can live in his covenant of peace, no matter your circumstance.