In July of 1952, Florence Chadwick was already a famous long-distance swimmer. Almost two years before, she had swum the English Channel from France to England, then—a year later—she swam it again in the other direction. No one would accuse her of being a quitter!
But, famously, that July she did quit.
Florence was attempting to become the first woman to swim from Catalina Island to Palos Verdes on the California coastline. As she swam, support boats stayed nearby with rifles to scare off sharks. The water was freezing cold and covered by a thick, dense fog that hid the shoreline from view.
After 15 hours of exhausting effort, Florence began to ask to be taken out of the water, doubting that she could make it. The crew encouraged her to continue, saying that the end was surely near, and she did for another hour or so, but eventually she was determined to call it off, and they brought her into one of the boats.
Only as they began to take her to the other side did they realize the full truth: After swimming more than 20 miles, she had stopped with less than 100 yards to go. So close to the finish line, why did she quit? Multiple sources report that she claimed one factor made the difference: She could not see the coastline through the fog. Unable to see her goal, she gave up trying to reach it.
She attempted the same feat again two months later, through fog just as dense as before. This time, she made it—and she did it two hours faster than the previous world record! While the fog that obscured her vision the first time was just as present and just as thick, this time she benefitted from a new perspective: Just because you can’t see it with your eyes doesn’t mean you can’t see it in your mind. On the other side of that fog was the shore.
A simple but important life lesson can be learned from this event: If we are to attain the goals we set, we must maintain a clear mental focus. We must not allow anything to cause us to lose sight of our goals—and we must visualize success!
What goals have you set? How clear are your plans and how strong is your desire to achieve them? What price are you willing to pay to make them come true? Can you look ahead into the future and see victory?
The greatest athletes, artists, musicians, and all other leading men and women in their various fields of expertise experienced adversity and encountered obstacles along the path to success—and yet they realized their dreams because they adhered to this basic principle.
The heroes of faith noted in the Bible also understood the importance of maintaining their focus. Mentally, they projected themselves into the future. They visualized attaining entrance into the Kingdom of God and then relentlessly pursued that goal. They believed with an absolute certainty that with God’s help all things are possible (Matthew 19:26), and were willing to make great sacrifices to gain entrance into the Kingdom. They would let nothing dissuade them from accomplishing what they set out to do. For example, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and Sarah died before actually taking possession of the land God had promised to give them. Nor did they receive the promises of the covenant during their lifetimes. Nevertheless, with their faith intact, and the goal of eventually receiving those promises in the resurrection to come (clearly pictured in mind), they faithfully endured to the end of their lives. They understood the temporary nature of this life. They were overcomers. Though they endured many trials and difficulties, they embraced the belief that in the resurrection they would have a lasting inheritance (Hebrews 11:13–16). God perfected their character as they yielded to His lead, and the book of Hebrews shows us that God was pleased with them.
Being a part of the Family of God in the Kingdom to come should be our primary spiritual goal! Jesus Christ instructs us in Matthew 6:33, “But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.” But why? Perhaps the most profound truth that God has revealed in Scripture is that His purpose is to make us His own children in His Family (Romans 8:17; 1 John 3:2; Revelation 21:7). Did you know that? The Bible bears witness to the remarkable truth that God created man to perfect our character by the power of Christ and then to give us immortality and glory like Christ’s as His very own children.
Jesus Christ will soon return from heaven to establish the kingdom of God on earth, to glorify the saints, and to rule on earth over all nations for a thousand years (Revelation 5:10; Revelation 20:4–6). During that time, all peoples will be given God’s truth, and salvation will be opened to all those who have never had their chance (Isaiah 2:2–4).
All humans who have ever lived will have an opportunity for salvation (1 Timothy 2:4; 2 Peter 3:9). This is not the only day when salvation will be offered: Those who have died unsaved are not all lost. There will be a resurrection in which they will have their opportunity to be saved. This fundamental and encouraging doctrine is not understood or taught by the professing Christian religions of the world, but it is in your Bible! And seeing that day come is a goal worth striving for. Seeking the Kingdom of God and His righteousness should be foremost in our minds and hearts—visualized in our mind’s eye like a shore on the other side of the fog.
Take a pen and paper and write down some goals. Be sure to include goals for education, job, health, family, physical and spiritual goals, and any others that come to mind. Keep it, and in the future, refer to that list often. It will help remind you of what you have yet to accomplish, and give you encouragement as you see what you’ve already achieved. Cross items off the list as you complete them and feel free to add to the list as new ideas come to mind.
Too many people wander aimlessly through life, accomplishing very little along the way. Where there are no goals there will be no significant accomplishment. Goals provide the direction needed for us to focus our energies on what lies ahead. And if we are to achieve what we set out to do, then we must be able to envision the attainment of those goals, with our faith intact, and act to make things happen. Incredible achievements have been accomplished by people who were able to visualize what they wanted and who were willing to work hard for it. Don’t let anything keep you from accomplishing what you set out to do—not the cold, not fatigue, not even the fog!