I had a soccer coach who loved spending nine of the ten allotted half time minutes pointing out our missed opportunities. He often reminded us how the score on the score board was not reflective of the team he knew we were. He wasn't telling us anything we didn't already know. We knew our capacity to play soccer with the best teams in the league. We were as good, if not better than the best, but there were moments we struggled to show it. During the worst half times we hung our heads and made our way to the bleachers at the end of the field. With eyes looking at the ground, we wiped sweat from our foreheads and tried to keep it together as we listened.
No matter how rough the half had been coach always ended his rant with the same three words, “Look at me.”
“Look at me, “ he would say, and all of our heads would come up. “You are better than this. You know how to play soccer. You know how to make runs. You know how to tackle the ball. You know how to shoot. You know how to score. You know what you are doing. Don’t let the other team get in your head. They are not better than you.”
With those three words came power, because no matter the chaos unfolding around us, making eye contact with coach reminded us of who we were. It brought confidence. He was not moved. He was not spinning. He was not worried. The game was far from over. Countless games we showed up in the second half, pulling off unheard of victories through unstoppable rallies. We were a second half team, which meant the game wasn't over until it was over.
When the spinning plates we juggle hit the floor our first tendency is to look at the brokenness surrounding us. Instinctively, we drop down and begin picking up the mess. Whether it be a the broken marriage of our aging parents, the bad choices of a close family member, the personal loss of a loved one or the aching pain of watching your child make bad choices, we diligently look down and work to rebuild.
I’ve learned the hard way, when I immediately go to work on the brokenness in my life or in the lives of others, I miss the best part. Working diligently, even with the best of intentions, there is no halftime speech, no reminder of truth, no eye contact and no second half rally. There's just me, trying to figure out how to dig out of the hole and pull off the impossible comeback.
In Mark 4 a massive storm hits. The disciples are out on the water trying to get to the other side of the lake when the fiercest winds threaten to capsize their fishing boat. With their eyes on the storm they went to work, scooping out the oncoming water, pulling in the fishing nets, grabbing whatever they could to help steer the ship. In their panic they did whatever it took to survive. In their fear, the chaos around them would surely be the defeat of them.
Then someone remembered Jesus was in the boat. Frantically, they called out to him. “Jesus, how are you sleeping? Wake up and do something! Don’t you see we are all going to die here?”
Mark 4:39 says, “He got up, rebuked the wind and said to the waves, “Quiet! Be still!” Then the wind died down and it was completely calm.”
Turning to look at them, the eerie silence of stillness all around them, he shook his head, “Why are you so afraid?”
Something happens when we make eye contact with Jesus. When Jesus becomes bigger than the circumstances we face, our faith kicks in and the impossible begins to happen.
The chaos around us only controls us when we look away from the Jesus within us.
Instead of focusing our best attention on the pain we face, why not focus our best attention on the Jesus we serve? Why not invite him into the brokenness and resist the urge to fix it in our own strength? Why not give him the opportunity to do what He does best. Our chaos doesn’t shake Him. Our brokenness is not too much for him to carry. He's not panicked. He won't be afraid. And He won't hesitate to get involved.
1 Peter 4:12-13, “Dear friends, do not be surprised at the painful trial you are suffering, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice inasmuch as you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed.”
I know it hurts. I know you want to hang your head low. I know sometimes it is easier to look at the mess rather than lift your eyes up. But, He’s there and He has your hope. He has your faith. He has your future.
Won’t you look at him?
Make eye contact with Jesus today and find what you need.