Target fixation is what happens when a person becomes so focused on an object (be it a target or hazard) that they inadvertently increase their risk of colliding with the object. It is most often associated with situations in which the observer is in control of a high-speed vehicle, such as fighter pilots, race-car drivers and motorcyclists.
I saw this in person during a motorcycle safety course. An older lady (we’ll call her Gladys because unfortunately I don’t remember her name) had quickly become the hero of the class. We all loved the fact that while many of her peers were slowing down in life, she was learning to ride a motorcycle. In the empty parking lot where the training took place there were no obstacles, with the exception of a single light pole. During a practice session, Gladys began riding and steered slowly in the general direction of the pole. The class watched in disbelief as, in spite of our shouts of warning and the instructor desperately chasing after her, she rode right into the pole. In a parking lot empty for 50 yards in any direction, she hit a pole less than a foot wide. Why? Because her attention became fixed on that pole. As she inwardly told herself not to hit the pole, she kept looking at it, and eventually collided with the very object she hoped to avoid. Thankfully, nothing was hurt other than her pride, and Gladys remained the hero of the class.
Why mention this? There are a lot of things that we can focus on as a church right now. When will we get a pastor? When we will get an administrator? What if giving is down? What if things change and I don’t like it? The list of concerns goes on and on. But if we make these things our primary focus, they can wreck us. We can lose sight of the main thing. The writer of Hebrews exhorts us in Hebrews 12:1-3: “Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, 2 fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. 3 Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.” If our eyes are fixed on anything other than Jesus, we are going to grow weary, lose heart, be discouraged, and want to give up. If our eyes are fixed on Jesus, we will run right into His love, mercy, wisdom, and peace. May Jesus be the target on which our eyes are fixed.
Keep your eyes on Jesus (and watch out for light poles),