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  • Writer's pictureBrad Zimanek

Fixing your eyes on Christ in your life

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, 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. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart."

Keeping God near-by eliminates distractions

Husbands who move are generally in a no-win situation. The decisions in setting up the house of where everything goes and what hangs on the walls generally falls on the wife.

In our recent move, my wife allowed me to put my sports collectibles and wall hangings in the guest room and office.

But the biggest concession on her part brings a smile to face.

My wife allowed me to place a golf hole in the backyard amidst her flowers.

Every time I walk outside and see the hole it makes me smile. I love golf. I’ve created “My Amen Corner.” It’s not like Augusta National’s 11th, 12th and 13th holes but it’s mine.

It’s one hole with three different tee boxes. It is a three-hole, par 8 measuring 60 yards. I cut the “green” on the lawn mower’s lowest setting. But even if I’m not out there chipping, it gives me a peace. Golf is part of my history and how it is set up is personal.

I have two tee markers that I have had since I was a teen-ager. My brother gave me an old ball washer that I have not put out yet, but plan to at some point. He provided the hole I use from his retirement job of fixing the equipment at Fyre Lake Golf Course in Sherrard, Illinois.

The flag on the hole is from the Robert Trent Jones Championship from the Senator Course in Prattville, Alabama. That was pretty much my home course for the 10 years we lived there. The flag is signed by PGA Tour player Lanto Griffin when he won the Korn Ferry tournament on the course that was given to me when I was sports editor in Montgomery.

That set-up reminds me of my passion for sports and where I’ve been.

The same is true for our spiritual lives. I also have many different items in our home and in my office that fix my eyes – and my heart and mind – on Jesus Christ.

These “things” fix my eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of my faith and all the faithful witnesses that have run the race before me.

In my office, is a wooden carving of the song “How Great Thou Art” replicated from being taken from a hymnal. That song brings me straight to my grandfather, who was one of my spiritual mentors who probably didn’t even know it.

He would sing that song on his daily prayer walk with his dog on his property in Sobieski, Wisconsin. I see that small decoration and am brought to him.

Near the front door is a drawing of Jesus Christ from Jill’s lifelong pen-pal Mary Hutchison Pearson. You see it from so many angles when you walk around the house.

Christ’s eyes penetrate your soul. If you are thinking about something and need to be reminded of what is “truly” important all it takes is a glance at the photo to reel you in.

It’s the same for my office at the church.

Directly across from my desk is photo of me looking into the sun standing next to the three crosses at Camp Alamisco on Lake Martin.

It is where the Central Alabama Walk to Emmaus holds their spiritual experience weekends. The Walk to Emmaus was pivotal to my life and my spiritual journey. Seeing that photo in front of me each day fuels my passion to follow Christ and serve Him with all my heart.

To my left on the wall, is a drawing of Roberto Clemente – my all-time favorite baseball player – but it has a strong spiritual component.

Clemente’s motto was: “Any time you have an opportunity to make a difference in this world and you don’t, then you are wasting your time on earth.” I don’t want to waste a moment of loving Christ and loving others in His name. Every time I see that photo, I think of that.

Next to the Clemente photo is a drawing I was given. I was serving on a Kairos weekend when I met Travon.

There comes a point in a Kairos prison ministry weekend when inmates receive letters. They are letters of support and love from each of the team members that are spending time with them during the weekend.

That may not resonate with many people, but these men may have not received a letter in 10 years or more. Generally, the longer a person is incarcerated, the less contact they receive from family and friends.

The bag of letters was placed before Travon, but he didn’t move a muscle. He never opened a letter. This 250-pound man, who looked like an NFL tight end, just sat there shaking and crying his eyes out.

After a few minutes, I went over to ask him if he was OK. He told me he was better than he had ever been at any moment in his life. He began to explain.

We had 36 brown paper bags to put letters in for each inmate. We had grade school children draw messages of love on the outside like “Jesus love you!” and color a picture.

A little girl drew a picture of pastoral barnyard scene. In the drawing, a tree was reflecting in the lake. Travon is an artist. That’s all he needed.

In the way only God can, Travon got just the right bag for his letters.

The next week, we had a follow-up meeting, and Travon sat in the back with a pencil and a piece of poster board and he drew this photo and gave it me.

It says “Jesus, son of God, have mercy on me a sinner.”

My eyes are instantly drawn to ONE thing – the man’s hand clutching Jesus’s cloak. … He’s reaching out for that connection to Jesus …

Do you have time to be Christ to others? Do you have time for Christ in your life?

If you place reminders around you in your life, you will have concrete examples of the only connection in your life that truly matters.

Brad Zimanek is the Pastor at Gulfview United Methodist Church in Panama City Beach, Florida. He worked in sports journalism for 32 years prior to answering the call to full-time ministry in 2019.

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