Don’t Get Distracted (Boot Camp for Creators & Dreamers 17.2)

Previously: Focus your extra time and energy on your dreams and creative endeavors. Don’t allow empty pursuits to distract you from your goals. Choose one project and/or one gifting upon which you concentrate efforts — and stick to it. Discover what your “one thing” is — and stay focused.

What’s your “one thing”? Well, when using your special gifts or talents, which one brings you the most joy? And which projects or activities provide the greatest satisfaction? What’s the one thing that excites you most and brings a sense of fulfillment to your life?

In the Academy Award-winning movie Chariots of Fire (Best Picture, 1981), there’s a line of dialogue that beautifully sums up the emotional and spiritual feeling of the “one thing”: Eric Liddell (portrayed by Ian Charleson) is training for the 1924 Paris Olympics. Liddell is a devout Christian missionary to China, a role to which he is deeply committed; but he’s also convinced God has called him to run: “I believe God made me for a purpose, but He also made me fast. And when I run I feel His pleasure.”

Ian Charleson as Eric Liddell, running in his civvies.

Once we streamline our goals and dreams, once we realize what is truly our “one thing” in life, we too should feel God’s pleasure. As the Apostle Paul states, “God has made us what we are. He has created us in Christ Jesus to live lives filled with good works that he has prepared for us to do.” (Ephesians 2:10 GW)

Sensing God’s approval, as well as His steadfast faithfulness, each of us should focus on our “one thing” and stick with it, no matter what challenges we face; no matter what obstacles we encounter. This is precisely what Liddell did.

In one memorable scene, Liddell stumbles and falls while competing in an important, pre-Olympics race. Down — with precious seconds ticking away and the other runners closing in on the finish-line — but not out, Liddell scrambles to his feet and sprints like a wild animal. He soon catches up to the other runners — and then passes them — winning the race, partly through speed, but just as much through sheer determination and a deep sense of conviction.

Watching Eric Liddell from the sidelines is another champion athlete, Harold Abrahams. Abrahams, an equally determined runner (who is destined to compete against Liddell) is astonished by Liddell’s prowess: “I’ve never seen such drive, such commitment…. He unnerves me.”

Ben Cross (left) as Harold Abrahams: distracted by Eric Liddell’s focused performance.

Abrahams was so unnerved, in fact, that he committed the unpardonable sin among runners: in the middle of a race, Abrahams looked around to see how the competition was performing. For a brief moment he took his eyes off the finish line and looked to see where Eric Liddell was — and that cost Abrams the race.

  • Friends, in the pursuit of our dreams, we cannot afford to allow anyone or anything to unnerve us (or distract us). We have to stay focused, and that means keeping our eyes on the goal and the prize (Philippians 3:12-14).
  • Similarly, we need to keep our eyes on the Lord, the source of our strength, the One who equips us to achieve our goals and reach our destination. Remember, the Apostle Simon Peter was able to walk on water — but only for as long as he kept his eyes on Jesus Christ. The moment Peter’s focus shifted away from his Lord, and onto his circumstances (a raging, storm-tossed sea), the apostle began to sink. (Matthew 14:25-31)

When we creators and dreamers choose to focus on God the storm-stopper — instead of on the frequent storms of life — we can accomplish the seemingly impossible. If, however, we focus on our problems, challenges, setbacks, delays, and disappointments … we’re sunk!

  • But if (and when) we do get distracted, or fall, as Eric Liddell did, we must get back into the race immediately!
  • Harold Abrahams (1899-1978) was a lawyer by profession. He won a Gold Medal (for the 100-metres) at the 1924 Paris Olympics. A year later, a serious leg injury ended his competitive career, but he continued to distinguish himself as a writer and broadcaster, and he remained committed to developing Jewish sports activities in Great Britain.

    And, like Harold Abrahams, who went on to win Olympic Gold, we must learn from our past mistakes. When something doesn’t work out, then try something else.

Thomas Edison is reported to have tried more than two thousand different experiments that failed before he finally got the lightbulb to work. He once told a journalist that from his perspective he had never failed at all; inventing the lightbulb was just a two-thousand-step process. Edison kept a clear and positive focus: he concentrated on what he learned from his mistakes, not on the failures themselves — or the delays.

  • Like Edison, we must realize that staying focused requires patience. Reaching a goal or fulfilling a dream is an involved process, and oftentimes the process can be long. Rome wasn’t built in a day, so why should we expect instant success when it comes to our fondest hopes and dreams? Everything worthwhile in life takes time.
  • Stop watching the clock, stop crossing off the days, months, and years on the calendar. Instead, focus on where you’re heading, not how long it’s taking to get there.
  • Keep moving forward, and watch where you’re going, not where you’ve been. This means letting go of past mistakes, hurts, disappointments, and regrets.
Eric Liddell (1902-1945) was a sprinter, rugby player, and missionary to China. Often called the “Flying Scotsman,” he was favored to win the 100-metres at the 1924 Summer Olympic Games; but Liddell refused to participate in that event because the heats were held on Sunday (the Christian Sabbath). Instead, he competed in, and won, the 400-metres. In 1925 Liddell returned to China to serve as a missionary teacher. He remained there until his death in a Japanese internment camp in 1945.
  • Forgive the people who failed you, who didn’t encourage or support your dreams. Holding onto the past is like having a ball-and-chain fastened at the ankle. It will only weigh you down and impede your progress. Keep your focus on the Lord and the future He’s prepared for you; because He will never let you down. (Jeremiah 29:11)
Need more inspiration? Check out Chariots of Fire.

Follow the advice of the Apostle Paul: “It’s not that I’ve already reached the goal or … completed the course. But I run to win that which Jesus Christ has already won for me. Brothers and sisters…. This is what I do: I don’t look back, I lengthen my stride, and I run straight toward the goal to win the prize that God’s heavenly call offers in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 3:12-14 GW)

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