Golf immortal Arnold Palmer recalls a lesson about overconfidence: “It was the final hole of the 1961 Masters tournament, and I had a one-stroke lead and had just hit a very satisfying tee shot. I felt I was in pretty good shape. As I approached my ball, I saw an old friend standing at the edge of the gallery. He motioned me over, stuck out his hand and said, “Congratulations.” I took his hand and shook it, but as soon as I did, I knew I had lost my focus.
On my next two shots, I hit the ball into a sand trap, then put it over the edge of the green. I missed a putt and lost the Masters. You don’t forget a mistake like that; you just learn from it and become determined that you will never do that again. I haven’t in the 30 years since.”
Focus is important. Lose it and you lose your way.
Sometimes we miss what God is saying because we are too focused on earthly circumstances and not on Him. This happens to me, to you, and we have a record of it happening to the disciples. In fact, the account in Mark chapter 8 is a little humorous, or would be, if the subject was not so serious. In the account, the disciples in the boat with Jesus were so focused on their hunger that they missed an entire spiritual lesson, and Jesus could not have been more frustrated with them.
Mark Chapter 8
13 And He left them, and getting into the boat again, departed to the other side. 14 Now the disciples[a] had forgotten to take bread, and they did not have more than one loaf with them in the boat. 15 Then He charged them, saying, “Take heed, beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and the leaven of Herod.”
16 And they reasoned among themselves, saying, “It is because we have no bread.”
17 But Jesus, being aware of it, said to them, “Why do you reason because you have no bread? Do you not yet perceive nor understand? Is your heart still[b] hardened? 18 Having eyes, do you not see? And having ears, do you not hear? And do you not remember? 19 When I broke the five loaves for the five thousand, how many baskets full of fragments did you take up?” They said to Him, “Twelve.”
20 “Also, when I broke the seven for the four thousand, how many large baskets full of fragments did you take up?” And they said, “Seven.”
21 So He said to them, “How is it you do not understand?”
Jesus was trying to explain something to them – something that mattered spiritually and eternally. All they could figure is that they didn’t have any bread to eat.
Jesus is understandably frustrated at their lack of focus, firing off back to back questions without giving time for an answer (verse 17-19). The funny part is – they were worried about having food, and they had just witnessed Jesus feed 4,000 people (Mark 8:6). They lacked faith, and because of it, they lacked focus.
Their worry over earthly things caused them to miss the spiritual thing.
If I fully trust Him, I will stop and listen to everything He is saying, with intense focus. Because that’s the important thing. He will take care of all the rest.
How many times does our worry cause us to miss hearing Jesus?