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February 2008

“Focused on Jesus”

Where did it go? I can't see it! It was a beautiful summer night at the St. Rosa Dome, a few years back. Coach Glasener had put me in right field at the 9:00pm game, under the lights, in the mosquitoes. I was up for the challenge.

When I was younger I was an average softball player. No star, but I could contribute. As I have slowed down a bit, the average has, let's say, shifted down. I thought I could still play a respectable out field but that night the sky in June was spectacular; I was not. Something had changed.

The game started and we took the field. I jogged out to my field and warmed up with the right center fielder. The ump yelled "Play Ball". The first batter stepped up to the plate and hit a fly to left field for a simple out. I was confident we could play with these guys.

The next batter looked my way and I readied myself for a ball to right side. Sure enough a shallow looping fly ball was coming my way. But there was a problem. What I considered a routine fly ball was an impossible challenge. For the first time that I could remember, I could not judge the depth of the ball as it came off the bat. I froze. The dark night and the bright lights were playing games with my eyes. Focus and depth perception were hardly optional tools for a committed right fielder. Obviously they were even more important than my leather 14" glove. This simple fly ball dropped 20 feet in front of me. "Shake it off" I said to myself, "anyone can miss one."

The lead off batters know how to place hit, so where do you think they went next? Yes, it was a slow grounder to the right side. Again, I was slow to the ball but handled it cleanly, so the runners were now on first and third. The cleanup batter stepped up with a smile on his face, as he scanned the field for just the "right" placement. I positioned myself , adjusted my glasses and put on my determined "I can do this", face. As the pitch came, the number 4 hitter nailed a high fly ball to right field. I positioned myself and yelled "I've got it."

As I set myself for the catch I realized that I had once again judged it poorly. The ball sailed over my head and landed about 20 yards behind me, rolling quickly to the fence. It's called an inside the park home run. Needless to say, in frustration and compassion for my team, I benched myself. I also received a nice thank you note from the other team. (not really) That was a humbling game. I could not escape the truth that I could no longer focus well enough to play outfield at night. Or more simply stated, old guys need to know when to sit and cheer.

That true personal story is a fun reminder of the issues of vision in our life. Sometimes the situations of life beyond our control, overwhelm us, causing us to lose sight of the things that are important. Other times we intentionally decide to focus on the wrong things of life. It is one issue for me to miss the ball because of a vision problem at night. It is quite another to miss the ball because I am staring at the night sky.

As we begin this new year, I want to remind us to focus our eyes, individually and as a church, on Jesus Christ. The Scripture in Hebrews 12 directs us to run the race with perseverance. As we run life's race we are to take two actions.

The first action is to throw off everything that hinders and the sin that entangles us. Take time this month to do a personal faith assessment. Are there things that are taking too much time and energy in your life? Are they hindering you from running free in Christ? Is there sin in your life that you are hauling around. It?s time to confess, repent, and begin again. You'll be running lighter than ever.

The second is to fix our eyes on Jesus. So as we begin our walk in Christ for 2008 may we reflect Jesus in our life. I pray that we can commit ourselves to live as Jesus lived and to love as Jesus loved, committed to his perfect will. It will be important as we set the priorities, goals and direction for this wonderful ministry God has called us to.

May God bless you as we focus together on Christ.

Pastor Craig

Community Covenant Church
Pastor Craig Johnson
P.O. Box 278, Upsala, MN 56384     Church (320) 573-2672     Fax (320) 573-4172