One of my goals when I was growing up was to have season tickets to my favorite college football team’s games (Think red, white, and snorting). I shared that with my wife after we got married and she said, “why don’t we get tickets for this season?” Yay! I did marry the most incredible woman in the world!

We sat on the ninth row in the end zone for our first game together as newlyweds.  I couldn’t have been happier –unless I had 50-yardline seats.

We were dominating some no-name directional school (northwest, southwest, or east something or another state university) throughout the first two quarters.

Then, came halftime. The band was playing, everyone was enjoying an evening of football bliss, and then, the ultimate: someone pulled out a beach ball.

I don’t know why the proverbial “beach ball in the stands at an athletic event” has always mesmerized me, but just suffice it to say that another major goal of mine has been to actually hit the beach ball (I know, it’s a little juvenile).

That night, the beach ball appeared in the end zone directly across from us at the stadium. My eyes caught sight of it and locked in. Up. Down. Up. Down. Up. Down. The beach ball floated through the stands slowly making its way around the stadium.

Finally, after what seemed like an eternity of gazing upon the beach ball, it showed up in my section. Then, as if someone had perfectly placed the ball above my head and let it drop, the ball came directly to me!

I reared back with all my strength, ready to hit the ball. This was the moment I had dreamed of (seriously, no kidding).

Suddenly, with a violent whirl of my body, I hit the ball as hard as I could. Like a major league pitcher’s follow-through, I was now bent over forward, arm wrapped back around my body, head down… which meant, for a moment, I couldn’t see where I hit the ball.

Then, I started hearing the crowd. No, it wasn’t what I expected. Instead of loud cheers and applause for the greatest-beach-ball-hit-in-the-bleachers-of-an-athletic-event-ever, all I could hear was booing.

Booing? What was that all about? I stood up, looked around, and sure enough; everyone in my section was booing me. What in the world had happened?

I looked to my sweet, dear, loving wife for support. She was covering her face in shame.

And then, it hit me. I knew what had happened.

When I hit the ball I was facing forward –which meant I was facing the field –of which I was sitting very close… Yes, that’s right; I hit the ball onto the field.

Since it was halftime and the band was playing, nobody on the field was paying attention to get the ball out of the end zone and throw it back into the stands. I had ended that evening’s edition of the most cherished half-time tradition; and now I was paying for it as all of my fellow fans (dressed in the same red-and-white as me) were pointing and booing at me.

I couldn’t stop replaying the scenario throughout the second half. It kept playing in my mind as I asked myself, “what could I have done different?”

I made good contact and I had good form (at least I’d like to think so). And I certainly poured every ounce of energy into it. So what had gone wrong?

There was only one thing that I needed to change: direction.

If only I had turned a few degrees to the right or the left, the outcome would have been vastly different.

Every one of us has something we are going to pour all of our energy into. Commonly referred to as goals, dreams, or ambitions; these things require our focus, energy and attention.

But what if, at the end of your life, you realized that the very thing you had poured all of your energy into was in vain because you were pointed in the wrong direction?

Romans 12:2 encourages us to think ahead about the direction in which our lives are pointing.  “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.”

This verse starts by telling us what direction not to point toward. “Do not be conformed to this world.” In other words, don’t just go with the flow. My big mistake in the bleachers was that I didn’t question my direction up front.

As fallen humans, our first inclination is to do what culture has made “normal.” However, God desires for us to think for ourselves being “transformed by the renewal of your mind.” This requires active thinking about our direction in light of God’s Word. We must be proactively “discern(ing) what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.”

That’s a recipe for a regret-free life in which our goals point to the most important thing in life: God’s glory. So go ahead, give it all you’ve got. Pour everything into your goals –just be sure to check your direction first.