Did you ever play a sport as a youngster? Perhaps it felt new and strange to master the basics? How do I take this round ball and put it through the hoop, over the wall, inside the goal, over the net, into the hole? Whether it was basketball, baseball, soccer, tennis, or golf, you probably heard your coach utter famous words of advice: Keep Your Eye on the Ball.
Perhaps there is no single piece of advice in the sports world more ubiquitous (i.e. found everywhere) than these six words. Let's analyze them, then apply them to our lives.
Keep. We start with a verb – which seems appropriate in sports. Keep is an imperative that implies a hidden force exists, tempting you to drift away from something important. So, for example: keep trying, because you'll be tempted to quit. Keep focused, because you'll be tempted to daydream. Keep running, because you'll be tempted to stop. Keep. Continue. Don't stop.
Your. Not his. Not her. Not them or their. Not even us. Just, your. This is about you. Not about your neighbor. Not about your friend. Not about your brother, sister, parent, or coach. You. Your.
Eye. Note: not your ear. Not your nose. Not your chin, elbow, or pinky. Your eye. Why your eye? Because the eye, and only the eye, gives vision to see reality. Without the eye, every sport is futile exercise. The eye's capacity renders sports doable. You've probably never heard of "hand-appendix coordination." But certainly you've heard of "hand-eye coordination." So, Keep ... Your ... Eye ...
On the Ball. Ah, the direct object! The Ball. The one thing. The thing without which we don't have the sport. The focal point of everything. The indispensable foundation. The fundamental prerequisite. The ontological orb. The sin qua non ("without which, nothing" -Latin).
Dan, are you kidding me? Why are you writing about this at all?
Because of my sports background, I heard the phrase – "Keep your eye on the ball" – countless times growing up. This simple phrase has become my tagline ... with a twist.
I now sign most of my letters and emails with this simple, closing salutation: "Keep your eye on the Ball ... Jesus is the Ball."
What do I mean? As fundamental as the ball is to the sport, Jesus is to life. If I take my eye off the ball, I won't hit it squarely, I won't score a goal or hit a homerun. I'll simply wiff. Swing and miss. Fail.
Nothing is more important than identifying the Ball upon which to focus one's life. I'm convinced there is only one such Ball. His name is Jesus. When tempted to allow my attention to drift to the unimportant, it is more vital than ever to "Keep my eye on the Ball. Jesus is the Ball." (Of course, don't take the analogy too far ... I'm not suggesting we 'hit' Jesus, but rather, focus on Him. Though, to be sure, He certainly took the blow of the bat for us).
Dan, how can I do this practically? How can I keep my eye on the Ball? It begins with a decision, which will be tested and refined. The decision: nothing is more important today than spending time in Jesus' presence, in His Word, the Bible. Period. So, for example, you're swamped with homework? Regardless, spend your first and best time with Jesus. Do you have so much work to do you're heading to the office at 7am? Wake 15 minutes earlier, open your Bible, pray, drink your coffee, then go. First things first. Keep your eye on the Ball.
How do you keep your eye on the Ball? I'd love to hear! Let me know in the comments below.