The French scientist, Guillaume Amontons, is known to few outside physics’ circles and yet his discoveries affect all our lives daily. He made a thermometer that was more accurate than Galileos. He showed that gases change in volume the same amount for a given change in temperature. He determined a kind of absolute zero, designed a barometer to be used on ships, and invented a system of signaling by semaphore to mention a few of his accomplishments. When he became deaf at an early age he considered it a blessing because it allowed him to focus without the distraction of sounds upon his experiments. This intensity of concentration, no doubt, contributed to his ability to accomplish what he did. The Apostle Paul makes it clear that such an ability is necessary to successfully live the Christian life.
He said, “Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus. Let us then as many as be perfect be thus minded.” Phil. 3:13-15a. Consider how much he had to put out of his thinking in order to serve effectively: there was his own persecution of the saints. There was his persecution, after his conversion, by the opponents of the church. There was his endurance of shipwreck and perils associated with his travels. There were the beatings. He was stoned and left for dead. He served without adequate financial support. And he suffered the accusations of those within the church that did not accept his apostleship. And yet he forced himself not to be distracted from his true course. He was serving the Lord and the Lord had never let him down and he was confident would never let him down. He maintained his direction and focus.
His example and pattern was” Jesus who for the joy that was set before Him endured the shame of the cross.” Hebrews 12:2. In doing so, Paul himself became a great example for us. The ancient myths sought to explain the human foible of being distracted from our goal by side issues whose value does not compare with the prize to be won. Atalanta was the most desirable of all the maids but the oracle had prophesied that marriage would be fatal. She said she would marry only the youth who could outrun her. Many tried but failed because of her swiftness. Venus helped Hippomenes, who loved Atalanta, when he proposed a race. She gave him three apples of gold. In the race, when Atalanta would forge ahead, Hippomenes would throw out a golden apple and she would stop and pick it up. Though swifter, she lost the race. And so do we when we allow other things to distract us from our true goal – eternal life in Christ Jesus.