Summary: The faith principles are:1. Focus on the fact that God will see you through anything. 2. Focus on what is unseen. 3. Focus on the fact that God is in control.
Kim Reichelm is the “extreme skiing” world champion. You may have seen her on television skiing down the peak of a treacherous mountain that looks like certain death for anyone trying to go down it on snow shoes, let alone skis. Some have died on these attempts, and others have become seriously injured, but the sport of extreme skiing is alluring more and more people to the dangers of the challenge. The November 1999 issue of Outside magazine, in an article entitled “The Trees: Lovely, Dark, and Deep,” says that one of the favorite extremes of skiers is running through a stand of trees after a fresh, deep snow. It is extremely dangerous, as Sonny Bono and Michael Kennedy found out. They were both killed after crashing into trees while skiing. Tim Etchells, the writer of the article says, “What you focus your eyes on becomes critical in the woods. Look at the spaces between the trees — the exits where you hope to be traveling.” Reichelm, the expert in the sport says, “The secret is not to stare at what you don’t want to hit.”
What she is talking about is focus. The extreme skier who focuses on the trees is more likely to hit the trees. The one who is looking for the spaces, or the exits, between the trees is going to miss the obstacles. But it is hard not to look at the trees because you are so afraid of crashing into them. So this morning, I want to talk about focus. Don’t stare at what you don’t want to hit. we are focused on our fears, we will likely go crashing into them. But if we focus on the open places between them, we will likely avoid them. In the article, the author says, “With practice and a little luck, you’ll soon be ripping through the tightest of trees without getting a mouthful of bark.” So we want to learn how to practice with our faith maneuvers to see how we can get through the forest of fear without getting a mouth full of bark. The Bible says, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight” (Proverbs 3:5-6).
So how do we stay on the paths which God has made for us? The first faith principle is this: Focus on the fact that God will see you through anything, not on the bad things that might happen. How many of you play a movie in your mind of all the bad things that could possibly happen in the future? There is always something to worry about: losing your job, aging parents, wayward children, illness, terrorism, just to mention a few. It is easy to focus on the tress, and not so easy to focus on the open spaces. Since September 11, 2001 we have been bombarded by fear words that many of us were only vaguely familiar with before that day: weapon’s-grade Anthrax, Cipro, the Taliban, Al Qaeda, and bio-terrorism.
How do we deal with this kind of worry? In one of the movies about astronauts — I believe it was Apollo 13 — one of the astronauts is looking at the earth from space. As he stares at planet earth, which now seems so small, he lifts his thumb until the entire earth is blocked out. The earth, which seemed so large before, was now so small that he can no longer see it. This, in effect, is what we do with the worries and fears we have. We lift the thumb of faith and place it over our fear. We focus on the face of God, and in so doing the problem that at one time seemed so large before, now seems almost insignificant. We have a promise from Scripture which says, “The Lord knows how to rescue the godly from trials. . . .” (2 Peter 2:9). Isaiah the prophet wrote: “Can a mother forget the baby at her breast and have no compassion on the child she has borne? Though she may forget, I will not forget you! See, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands; your walls are ever before me” (Isaiah 49:15-16).
When we accept the fact that bad things will happen, but a good God will see us through them, it changes our focus. We begin to concentrate on how big our God is, not how big our problems are. We know that God is able, and that is all we need to know. We have the confidence that nothing will happen to us that God cannot handle, and even use for our benefit.
Listen to the words of Scripture which say, “The eyes of the Lord are on the righteous and his ears are attentive to their cry. . . . The righteous cry out, and the Lord hears them; he delivers them from all their troubles. The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit. A righteous man may have many troubles, but the Lord delivers him from them all” (Psalm 34:17-19).