I've learned the hard way that the best way to hit a manhole is to try to miss it. If I focus too much on avoiding it, I drive right over it, cringing the whole way. In fact, no matter what the obstacle is -- be it a little reflector or a big pothole -- it always happens the same way. If I want to miss it, I can't look at it. I need to look down the street because where I look, there I go. (I hear they teach you this stuff in motorcycle school.)
You probably know where I'm going with this.
It reminds me of life, and especially the spiritual life. We're cruising along, experiencing peace and joy and love and a sense of spiritual satisfaction, but as soon as we see an obstacle coming, we stare at it. We focus on it. We try hard not to hit it. We let it consume us. Our prayers hover around it. Our conversations always come back to it. We fearfully daydream about how bad it's gonna hurt when we hit it. We forget about the part of the path that goes around it, and we grimace as we go right through the middle of the thing we're trying to avoid. It's jarring. It's sometimes even catastrophic. And it's often preventable.
Some of us are more prone to focusing on the obstacles than others. And fear and worry is replete with self-fulfilling prophecies because where we look, there we go.
Proverbs 4 reminds us to,
25 Let your eyes look straight ahead, fix your gaze directly before you...27 Do not swerve to the right or the left; keep your foot from evil.If we're paying attention at all, we will see obstacles coming. We'll see enticements, hardships, frustrations, and all sorts of dangers that threaten our spiritual health and vitality. Some of them are unavoidable speed bumps, and we need to just slow down and go over them with the patience of God's grace. But many of them can be avoided; we don't need to be rattled by them. We can go around the obstacle if we'll just stop focusing on it, and instead, set our sites on where we're wanting to go.
1 Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. 2 Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. (Colossians 3)
Be encouraged! Stop staring at the bad. Instead, decide now that when you see obstacles in your path, you'll focus on Jesus, because where you look, there you go.