Eye on the Prize

“But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.”—- Philippians 3:13b-14

Last week I walked my dog on the trail near our house. As we rounded the bend near a retaining pond, the leash tightened and her floppy ears elevated slightly. I gripped the leash harder, knowing that she had spotted another animal. Since I have had many “Marmaduke”-style experiences with my dog (her jerking forward so fast my arm practically gets yanked out of its socket as she takes off), I scanned the area for what got her attention. And then I saw it—her nemesis—- a squirrel.

Her muscles tensed as the innocent squirrel flipped its tail and played with another squirrel off the sidewalk. I could read my dog’s mind—“Ah ha! TWO squirrels!!” She slowed her walk until she was a few feet away, then the inevitable happened—the squirrels bolted up a tree. I let go of the leash (avoiding the Marmaduke effect) and let her tear off till she came to a skidding stop at the bottom of a flimsy bare-branched tree. The squirrel had rushed up to the top of the tree, and sat perched on a branch looking down at us, tail arched over its back. I could see its beady-black eyes and white chest hair. My dog looked around the lower area of the tree, knowing the squirrel was somewhere, but not quite seeing it. I kneeled beside her and pointed up to the top of the tree. The dog’s head slowly went up and then she locked eyes on the squirrel. She stiffened on all four legs and didn’t move a hair. The squirrel had her full undivided attention!

As she kept an eye on the prize, I wondered how long this staring competition would last. The squirrel rattled its tail a bit, then after several minutes, decided to slowly make its way down the tree, with my dog watching every movement. Finally it gauged the distance to another branch and jumped several feet, ran to the ground, and took off, with me hauling my dog’s leash back, preventing her from running to the underbrush.

Paul reminds us to keep our eye on the prize—-Jesus Christ and eternal life. Spiritual life can feel complacent at times, but I am reminded of my dog and how she kept an eye on that squirrel. Nothing swayed her attention. And that is how we are called to be: focused and vigilant with our eye on the prize. So much distracts, so much pulls away, but with the Holy Spirit’s help, we can keep our eye on Christ and through His death on the cross, obtain eternal life with Him!

Prayer—“Gracious God, help me to always keep my eye on you. No matter what circumstances and distractions I encounter, guide me to keep my eye on your grace and eternal life. In Jesus’ Name. Amen.”

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