The Laser-Like Power of Focus

One of the very early goals President John F. Kennedy set before the eyes of our nation in 1961 was to put a man on the Moon before the end of the decade.

Our nation, led by a brilliant team at NASA, rose to meet this challenge.  On July 20, 1969, Apollo 11 mission commander Neil Armstrong set foot on the lunar surface and uttered these famous words, “That’s one small step for [a] man, one giant leap for mankind.”

The secret to NASA’s success? Unity and focus.

Diffused light will light a room and help you see things.  It might even make you feel warm.

A laser—which is focused light—can cut through steel.

I am stunned by the accomplishments of human beings of every stripe who unify, focus and stick to a task, gathering all of their energies toward one important end.  Moveable type.  Flight.  Space exploration.  Atomic fission.  Civil rights.  The list is endless.

In Genesis 11, the Bible tells the story of a group of people who gathered in Mesopotamia and began building an ancient stairway to heaven—the Tower of Babel.  It was quite a focused effort.

And it got the attention of God.  God.

God said, “”Behold, they are one people, and they have all one language, and this is only the beginning of what they will do. And nothing that they propose to do will now be impossible for them.”

Did you notice the last sentence?

“And nothing that they propose to do will now be impossible for them.”

God interrupted the building of the Tower.  But that is not the point of this post.  God Himself took note of a people, unified in purpose and what they could accomplish together.  There’s really no evidence that these people were in covenant relationship with God.  Indeed it seems to be this lack of a relationship with Him that prompted Him to break up the party.  Because “nothing…will now be impossible for them.”

If ordinary human beings, who did not appear to be seeking the God of Adam, Enoch and Noah could accomplish such things, what about people who love Him and want to accomplish His purposes?  Dreams and visions He’s put in their hearts?  “Impossible” tasks? (That’s what they said about flight before the Wright brothers lifted off.)

You have incredible potential as you concentrate, focus and rise up to meet challenges.  What’s your target?  End cancer?  Defeat world hunger by developing new food strains?  Increase world literacy?  Make every published work known to man available in any language in e-book form (the vision of CEO Jeff Bezos)? Fulfil the Great Commission one life at a time?  Go.  Focus.

You will be amazed.

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Eliezer Ben-Yehuda at work

I have been a student of biblical languages since 1981.  That year I fell in love with Hebrew.  I loved the look of the letters themselves, the guttural timbre of the words when spoken, the direction of the text–right to left–and the picturesque nature of this Semitic tongue.  Hebrew is a graphic vehicle of communication, the language of shepherds and farmers.  I learned the alphabet quickly and have been reading over for thirty years now.

In the wake of the Diaspora, Hebrew had ceased to be a spoken language.  It was, in effect, a dead language, confined to rabbinic and biblical studies.  And it remained that way until the 19th century.

And then Eliezer Ben-Yehuda stepped onto the scene.

Ben-Yehuda was a Lithuanian Jew, passionate for the return of Jews to their ancient homeland in Palestine.  He was also a language scholar and knew that a common language—other than Yiddish, a mishmash of Middle German and Hebrew—would unify his people.  In short, he was a fanatic.  A man with a mission.

So he set out to resurrect an essentially dead language.  He did this in an extreme way.  When he and his wife immigrated to Palestine, he determined that once they set foot on the Holy Land, they would only communicate in Hebrew.  A rigorous path indeed.

Eliezer Ben-Yehuda was fiercely determined to revive Hebrew.  Modern Hebrew is based on biblical and Rabbinic Hebrew.  And this amazing man, working tirelessly, single-handedly brought spoken Hebrew back to life.  It is the national language of Israel.  And a miracle of linguistics.

I’m stunned by Ben-Yehuda’s example of perseverance and determination.  It shows me that the most remarkable things are possible if one has grit, laser-like focus and tenacity in pursuit of a very specific goal.

What “impossible” goals do you have before you?  How can you learn from the example of Eliezer Ben-Yehuda?

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