Do you ever find yourself losing sight of the things that really matter in life?
I know I have. Much of it came before I was really following Jesus, but some of my habits stuck with me long after I put my faith in God.
I am kind of a sports nut. I am not the guy who paints his body or blogs and tweets solely about sports, but I am a lifelong Atlanta Braves fan, I grew up going to college football games in the south, I went to Auburn University (and watched our football team win a National Championship) and I played baseball from ages 4-18. I am a competitive person and have always been wired that way.
So when I first got to college, I knew Auburn football was a big deal, but I never fully understood until my first season on campus. People drove in to start tailgating on Wednesday, tent cities popped up everywhere around campus on Friday afternoons and you could almost touch the excitement in the air.
I was hooked.
I loved football already, but now having a team of my own? A school to cheer for and take pride in?
It was awesome. I loved every minute of it. I breathed Auburn football, recruiting and all.
When it wasn’t Fall, I was counting down the days until next year’s kick off.
Then Jesus stepped in.
My priorities changed. My focus in life was shaken to it’s core. One of the most important and beloved things in my life was being threatened with replacement. Was I going to continue to put football first and pursue it relentlessly? Or was I going to pull that back and turn my focus to something more important?
It was tough. Really tough. I had built an idol out of college football and I had to let it go.
I no longer wanted to put football first. I wanted to put Jesus first. I wanted to put other things ahead of this temporary, fleeting pleasure that football brought (when we won).
It was hard to change my habits. I realized just how much time I invested on following college football. Hours and hours and hours poured out of my life to follow something that would never be able to give anything back to me.
So, I shifted my focus.
Instead of saying, “Come on Auburn, win it so I can go nuts and brag and boast for another week!”
[box] “Be thou my vision, O Lord of my heart,
Naught be all else to me, save that Thou art;
Thou my best Thought, by day or by night,
Waking or sleeping, Thy presence my light.”[/box]
It was difficult.
I did it, but it was not easy. Do you know what happened next?
Go figure. Auburn goes 14-0 en route to a conference title, National title, and a Heisman trophy winner. Heaven for a college football fan. And it would have been complete bliss for the old me.
Don’t let me downplay it for you. I lived it up and enjoyed every moment of that season.
But, my priorities had changed. My life had changed. I celebrated differently than before. My heart wasn’t locked into getting happiness from football. I could sleep knowing that even if Auburn lost, I would wake up full of joy and peace.
I intentionally chose to let go of my idol and focus on what I knew deserved more weight. I am saying all of this to point out that each of us have an idol that could easily take the number one priority in our lives if not careful. It is definitely something to think about, especially if you haven’t pinpointed it before.
So, what is your idol? What is it that you focus on that prevents you from the one thing that really matters? Or, what idols in your life keep you from more important things like family and friends? Is there something that you feel like you couldn’t live without? A food? A drink? A sport? A hobby? Is there something in your life that if you were asked to give it up, you would refuse to do so, even if you knew it was taking the place of something more important?
Chances are if there is something coming to your mind, then you need to think deeply about what matters most in your life and make some course corrections. I still struggle and have times where my football love flares up, but intentionally remembering and focusing on what matters most helps keep me in line.