It matters where my eyes are. When running, if I look around instead of looking forward, there is a good chance I am going to trip. There is also a good chance if I look to the side that I will veer to the side and get squashed by a vehicle. If I don't look forward, there is even a really good chance I will step in a pile of cow dung from where cows are aloud to wander around anywhere they please. And the ever beloved open manholes are waiting to swallow up the person who takes their eyes off the road ahead. Yes, running has taught me to look forward and keep my focus on my task.
My son is in Basic Training in the Army. We found out he won a shooting competition in his battery. He has learned how to shoot well. Part of shooting is focusing on the target. When shooting, the rifleman cannot be looking at other shooters. They have to focus on their own target. If their eyes wander even slightly, their aim will be effected. The motto is "Aim Small, Miss Small." In other words, pick a very specific point on the target and the likelihood of missing the target itself is very minute. But the eyes must stay focused on the target.
The psalmist Asaph knew this concept well. He learned it the hard way. He was "running his race," but almost slipped because his eyes were in the wrong place.
Psalm 73:1-3 "A Psalm of Asaph. Truly God is good to Israel, even to such as are of a clean heart.
But as for me, my feet were almost gone; my steps had well nigh slipped.
For I was envious at the foolish, when I saw the prosperity of the wicked."
Asaph got his eyes off on the wicked. He knew God was good. He knew God was just. But he started focusing on the prosperity of the wicked. What happened when his eyes wandered? What happened when his focus was distracted? Much like when I run without focusing on the road in front of me, he stepped in the lie that the wicked were flourishing and successful. He tripped on the deception that they had it better than he did. He was almost swallowed by the open "manhole" of discouragement.
Psalm 73:13-14 "Verily I have cleansed my heart in vain, and washed my hands in innocency.
For all the day long have I been plagued, and chastened every morning."
He actually started believing that the wicked had it better than he did. He actually let the thoughts play in his mind that he followed God in vain. "I have wasted my time! I am over here with trials and chastening, while the wicked are living the good life! Why did I bother?!"
He believed these things until he went to the sanctuary. Then he was refocused on truth. His eyes were redirected on the target.
Psalm 73:17 "Until I went into the sanctuary of God; then understood I their end."
In the sanctuary, Asaph was reminded that the wicked have and end. They seemed like they were prospering, but they were on a slippery slope. It was only a matter of time. Asaph, however, was on a firm foundation. Asaph was slipping because he chose to get his eyes off the target, not because he was on slippery ground. When Asaph got in the sanctuary, his thoughts were redirected toward truth. His eyes were refocused on truth.
Why is it so important to go to church? It's a place of refocusing. It's a place where a corporate body of believers get their minds strengthened with truth so that they can keep their eyes focused on the target... glorifying God. God is good. He has a plan and purpose for every detail in our lives, even the painful and difficult things. If we get our focus on other people, we will forget the goodness of God. We will fall into discouragement. Are you struggling with discouragement? Make sure you are faithfully getting with other believers in church and getting refocused. Purpose to keep your eyes on your goal. Stop looking around at others. Keep your eyes on Him.
Psalm 73:28 "But it is good for me to draw near to God: I have put my trust in the Lord GOD, that I may declare all thy works."