Listen: Chris Witts presents Morning Devotions.
By Chris WittsThursday 28 Oct 2021Morning Devotions with Chris WittsDevotionsReading Time: 4 minutes
It was an embarrassing moment all round American air-rifle shooter Matt Emmons when he was taking part in the 2004 Athens Games. He had competed in the three-position event, in which participants shoot from their stomachs, knees, and feet at a target 50 metres away.
Going into his final shot, Emmons was in first place and needed only an average score for gold. He was one shot away from claiming victory. But what happened next was unbelievable.
Instead, he shot at the wrong target, one lane over, and got no score at all. He finished eighth. It was described as “an extremely rare mistake in elite competition.” At first, Emmons thought it was an electronic error. Then he learned it was his mistake. He had fired at the wrong target! Emmons fired at the target in lane three while shooting in lane two. How would he cope with such a shattering disappointment? He kept going with his sport.
In September 2010, Matt Emmons developed thyroid cancer. He had the entire thyroid surgically removed and now says he has made a complete recovery but is still monitored twice a year in case cancer shows any sign of returning. Back on track, Emmons qualified for two events at London 2012—and he knows spectators have learned to expect the unexpected if he makes any finals. Here’s what he said to the media:
I know what people know me for, but I take it with a grain of salt…I’m proud of the way I handled those situations. I play to win but I understand you’re not going to win every match, and there are things much more important to life than pulling a trigger and winning medals. I have my health and a family, and that’s way more important than this game will ever be.
When he was asked if he must win gold at the Olympics to make himself whole. He laughed. “No,” he said. “I don’t need it. I have a wonderful life. I’m thankful for everything I have. My life’s great.”
God has targets for us to hit with our lives. We can be successful in hitting a target in this life. But if it’s the wrong target, we don’t win. Author and Minister William Barclay said, “There are two great days in a person’s life—the day we are born and the day we discover why.”
Feeling God’s pleasure
The movie Chariots of Fire is the story of Eric Liddel, a Scottish sprinter who became a missionary to China. His sister wanted him to be a missionary sooner and tried to talk him out of running. He said, “When I run I feel God’s pleasure.”
Do you feel God’s pleasure? The LORD takes pleasure in his people. It says so in Psalm 149:4: “For the Lord delights in his people; he crowns the humble with victory.” God takes pleasure in watching you be you. Instead of seeing God as always disappointed with you, why not see him as a God who rejoices over you? God’s word says that he does.
Pastor Rick Warren says,
“The most important thing to know in life is that God loves you. And the most important thing to do in life is to love Him back.”
That reminds me of an important verse in Matthew 22:
“You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the first and great commandment.”
God has planned us for his purposes. He has targets for us to hit with our lives. We can be skilled in this life. We can put forth great effort in this life. We can be very focused in this life. We can be successful in hitting a target in this life. But if it’s the wrong target, we don’t win.
Do you know your purpose in life?
Are you hitting the mark? We need to make sure we are aiming at the right targets. One definition of failure is succeeding at something that doesn’t matter. So, ask yourself, At what target am I aiming? Is it the right target? It doesn’t matter how accurate you are if you are aiming at the wrong goal.
What is your goal in life? To live for yourself and no-one else?
There is more to life than earning a good wage and living in a nice house. God has given us a restlessness inside which cannot be explained very well. But ask anyone who has surrendered their life to Jesus Christ. Life takes on a new meaning, a new purpose which makes each day special.
The purpose for your life—the deepest place where you find meaning and satisfaction—transcends any role, job or circumstance you are facing.