After the Dallas Cowboys won the 1993 Super Bowl against the Buffalo Bills by a landslide (52-17), a reporter asked Cowboys head coach Jimmy Johnson what he had told his players before the big game.
“I kind of told them a story that you have a two-by-four,” he said, “and you lay the two-by-four across the room and most everybody in the room — and I did say there were probably a couple of players that couldn’t do it — but most everybody in the room could walk across that two-by-four and not fall, because their focus was that they were going to walk that two-by-four.
“But you take that same two-by-four and put it up 10 stories high between two buildings, then there’ll only be a few of us that’ll make it. We’ll be stumbling and grabbing on and holding on and going back to the start, because our focus is going to be on falling. The negative thoughts will be so strong that we’ll be thinking about falling rather than thinking about what the job is at hand.” (New York Times, “Johnson Goes to Great Heights to Get Point Across,” January 25, 1993).
Johnson explained that he told the team not to focus on the possibility of failing against the Bills, but to approach every play as if it was a practice session.
That approach can help us in every facet of life. Every one of us struggles with being distracted by failure, or falling, or things that can hurt us, to the point our life may not be as fulfilling as God intended. Jesus said, “I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly” (John 10:10). Needless anxiety robs us of that.
Someone said, “Worry is faith in the negative, trust in the unpleasant, assurance of disaster and belief in defeat…worry is wasting today’s time to clutter up tomorrow’s opportunities with yesterday’s troubles.”
The Bible teaches us to overcome worry by replacing it with faith in eternal, unconquerable things. Here are some of those things we are encouraged to focus upon:
1. The passionate Savior: Jesus Christ
“Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us, Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God” (Heb 12:1-2)(emphasis added in bold).
“Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time: Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you” (I Peter 5:6-7). Set your sights on Christ.
2. The positive side: Good things
“Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things” (Phil. 4:8). Are you looking for the bright side, or focusing on the shadows?
3. The perfect salvation: Heaven
“For our conversation is in heaven; from whence also we look for the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ: Who shall change our vile body, that it may be fashioned like unto his glorious body, according to the working whereby he is able even to subdue all things unto himself” (Phil. 3:20-21). No one is a failure who reaches heaven.
“If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God. Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth” (Col. 3:1-2).