Time Out: Life can shift our focus away from Godly goals

Topic / Time Out

Time Out (by Jerry Schmoyer)

When she looked ahead, Florence Chadwick saw nothing but a solid wall of fog. Her body was numb. She had been swimming for nearly sixteen hours. Already she was the first woman to swim the English Channel in both directions. Now, at age 34, her goal was to become the first woman to swim from Catalina Island to the California coast. On that Fourth of July morning in 1952, the sea was like an ice bath and the fog was so dense she could hardly see her support boats. Sharks cruised toward her lone figure, only to be driven away by rifle shots.

Against the frigid grip of the sea, she struggled on – hour after hour – while millions watched on national television. Alongside Florence in one of the boats, her mother and her trainer offered encouragement. They told her it wasn’t much farther. But all she could see was fog. They urged her not to quit. She never had… until then. With only a half mile to go, she asked to be pulled out. Still thawing her chilled body several hours later, she told a reporter, “Look, I’m not excusing myself, but if I could have seen land I might have made it.” It was not fatigue or even the cold water that defeated her. It was the fog. She was unable to see her goal.

Two months later, she tried again. This time, despite the same dense fog, she swam with her faith intact and her goal clearly pictured in her mind. She knew that somewhere behind that fog was land and this time she made it! Florence Chadwick became the first woman to swim the Catalina Channel, eclipsing the men’s record by two hours! Keeping your goal in sight makes all the difference!

What is a goal? In sports its easy to know what your goal is – to win by scoring the most points. Often these points are even called ‘goals’ because that’s the goal of the game. In life, however, it isn’t as easy to know what our goal is, nor is it easy to meet it. A goal is a response to a need. It’s something that can be accomplished. It’s a statement of God’s will for you. It’s a future objective. Goals are like stake posts in the distance which a farmer will keep his eyes on while plowing so he can plow a straight line.

Why have goals? If you don’t have a goal you will wander. One day Alice (Alice in Wonderland, by Lewis Carroll) came to a fork in the road and saw a Cheshire cat in a tree. “Which road do I take?” she asked. “Where do you want to go?” was his response. “I don’t know,” Alice answered. Then, said the cat, “It doesn’t matter. Any road will do.” We must set goals in order to attain them. If we don’t have a target, how will we ever know if we hit it or not? Goals motivate us. Goals give us purpose and direction. Goals help us focus. Goals help us know what our priorities need to be. Goals measure how well we’ve been doing.

Jesus had a goal in mind throughout His whole earthly ministry. Luke 13:32:

He replied, “Go tell that fox, ‘I will drive out demons and heal people today and tomorrow, and on the third day I will reach my goal.’

Paul had his goals as well. 2 Corinthians 5:9:

So we make it our goal to please him, whether we are at home in the body or away from it.

Philippians 3:14:

I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.

One night, a group of thieves broke into a jewelry store. But rather than stealing anything, they simply switched all the price tags. The next day no one could tell what was valuable and what was cheap. The expensive jewels had suddenly become cheap, and the costume jewelry, which had been virtually worthless before, was suddenly of great value. Customers who thought they were purchasing valuable gems were getting fakes. Those who couldn’t afford the higher priced items were leaving the store with treasures.

Application: In our world someone came in and switched all the price tags. It’s hard to tell what is of value and what is not. Great value is given to the accumulation of material wealth and the power that goes with it. The world puts a high price on popularity, prestige, beauty, and fame. But Jesus taught that such things are virtually worthless in the only “jewelry store” that matters: the kingdom of God.

Matthew 6:19-20:

Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal.

Jesus gives us guidelines for setting godly goals in Luke 12:29-31:

And do not set your heart on what you will eat or drink; do not worry about it. For the pagan world runs after all such things, and your Father knows that you need them. But seek his kingdom, and these things will be given to you as well.

Everyone has goals, if they realize it or not. Everyone has things they want to achieve in life. Everyone has goals, but not everyone acts on them. We all set goals, perhaps even without knowing it. We don’t start out on a vacation without knowing where we are going, don’t plant a garden without knowing what we want to grow, or build a house without giving the builder any instructions. The more intentional we are in setting our goals, the more likely we will be to achieve them. And for the Christian, when we include God in the process, we are assured success.


  • When you die, how do you want to be remembered? What do you want people to think of when they think of you? How do you want them to finish the sentence, “He/she was ______________ .”
  • Take some time to write down 3 lifetime goals, things you want to accomplish in life and be remembered for.

Jerry SchmoyerJerry Schmoyer has been a minister in Pennsylvania for over 25 years and has worked with teenagers for 15 years, ever since I became one myself. He authors the weekly Time Out series here at Life in Student Ministry in hopes to spiritually refresh your soul as you continually pour so much of yourself into students. God bless!

Posted on March 29, 2010

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