This photo is me after I finished a 112 mile bike ride. If I remember correctly about 48 to 50 of those miles I was riding against a strong headwind. For me that is nothing nice.....
Topic of the day.................How long can you stay focused?
The reason this topic comes to mind today is because of my vocation as a pastor. Our gospel lesson for this coming Sunday is the story of the disciples of Jesus crossing a lake and are fighting the waves and the wind as they try to cross to the other side. In the midst of their struggle to cross to the other side, Jesus appears to them walking on water. They at first are fearful of what they assume is a ghost coming towards them. Jesus calms their fears and commands them not to be afraid. It is at this point that Peter being Peter ask the Lord if he can come out and meet Him on the water. Jesus obliges His friend and Peter steps out of the boat and begins to walk on water. All is fine until Peter begins to realize what he is actually doing, looks around and I imagine is consumed by fear. At that moment he begins to sink and it is then as he sinks, Jesus reaches out to him and saves him from sinking.
Most of us have heard this story more than once. We have heard numerous sermons or even bible studies on this text. Most of the time we end up coming away with the idea that Peter began to sink because he failed to keep his eyes on Jesus. Peter allowed himself to become distracted and being distracted, he was no longer focused on what really was important.
Now you understand my question of the day. How long can you stay focused? How long can you stay focused when you are enveloped in a storm? How long can you stay focused when you have no distractions in your life? [If that is even possible!] How long can a person stay focused?
I ask that because I am guilty of losing focus and I wonder how this lesson really should be taught. Now on a deeper theological side, I can tell you that this story illustrates God's saving nature. He is the one who comes to us and saves us. It is not our work, but strictly His. We cannot save ourselves!
But somehow we need to walk away from this story with something to guide us for the week. We need some magic takeaway to help us. We need that golden nugget.
We can easily understand that we are in a boat of sorts in this life. We can easily understand that storms come in life. We can easily understand that those storms will toss and rock our boat. What is hard to understand that sometimes we need to step out of the boat.
If you noticed in the gospel account, it does not say they the boat was sinking or that they were going to drown if they stayed in the boat. The boat is secure, it is just tough going. The issue arises when Peter decides to step out of the boat and do something so incredible and unbelievable for most of us. It is only then he begins to walk on water and begins to become afraid of what he is actually doing.
About this point as I am writing I realize this story is really relatable and I can see my own life in it.
Follow along.... The boat is our life. It is somewhat safe to a degree. It can be tough, but it is doable. We will struggle no doubt, but our life if we stay in the confines of our boat can be relatively safe. Yes 'stuff' happens, but we adapt and we move/row on.
The interesting 'stuff' happens when we step out of the boat. When we decide that sitting in the boat is no longer what we want to do. I get that! The issue comes that stepping out of the boat to do incredible things takes a good amount of energy and focus. Hence the topic for the day.
Do you think Peter if he wouldn't have looked at the waves around him would have made it to Jesus or kept walking on water? The story leaves us to believe that his lack of concentration caused his downfall.
My downfalls [notice plurals] is when I lose focus. I know this. I can swim, ride and run at an average pace/speed. When my pace drops, it is because I have lost focus on what I am doing. It happens to me all the time and to be honest I have not figured out how to stay focused for great lengths of time.
According to Google..... and we know the internet never lies or is wrong, most people can concentrate for about 90 minutes. As a pastor/preacher, I would disagree with that assessment for sure! I watch people wane after 15 minutes and yet I continue to preach for 18 to 22 minutes. You think I would learn, or you think they would stay focused because Google says 90 minutes!
Well back on track... I wonder how people can be so motivated that they never loss focus. I watch people like David Goggins and I wonder what type of freak of nature is he? How do these people stay so focused that they can run beyond what the body is capable of? It is a mind or body thing isn't it.
Your mind is a controlling factor. So how can prep the mind to focus for a long Ironman distance race or an Ultra Marathon? I ask and wonder because I am going to attempt my first 31 mile distance event this month. For me it will be more about getting my mind in the right frame to accomplish this. I know my body [with aches and pains] is capable of doing this, but my mind is one screwed up thing.
Focus people, focus....
Somewhere along the way in writing this I have lost focus.
If you are willing to step out of the boat and do incredible stuff you need to be focused. Don't be afraid about sinking or failing on a deeper note, Jesus has your back! Step out and do it! Just do it! Stop sitting in the boat and going through the motions because that is just what you do. Is that really all you want from life? I can tell you that it is not what I want or desire.
I have also learned that you cannot worry about failing and what other people will say about your failing. Yes other people will say a lot and offer a lot of free advice but they do not define you! Most of those people have never stepped out of the boat and if they have, it was do something that would never be defined as incredible or epic [no matter how you slice it] I am not being mean or cruel, it is just most people don't like to try epic stuff because they might fail. So what! What does that matter, you failed, ok, you failed, get up, dust yourself off and try again!
Dream big, but just don't dream, step out and live!
How long can you stay focused? Let's find out together!
Peace, love and chicken grease my friends