Thursday, June 9, 2011

A New Focus

It seems that lately I've been relatively uninspired, and yesterday, when I attempted for what seemed like the hundredth time to write about anything, my mind's eye was covered by a black lid.  I couldn't form words and topics on which to write grossly evaded me.  The better part of my time has been spent questioning God, Who has been frustratingly quiet in response.  As a result, I've been quick to anger, quicker to tears, and slow to life certainties.  Absolutely nothing has been as it seems, and everything has gone wrong.  On numerous occasions, I've broken down emotionally, and asked God why He chose me.  Chose me for what?  Why He chose me to be His (Ephesians 1:4-5; John 6:44).  I was once ignorant of His presence and "life was easier," I told Him as I sobbed pitifully on the floor.  "At least I knew what I was doing and where I was going," I cried out to Him in anger.  "You wont even tell me with certainty what You want me to do with my life," I selfishly continued.  The simple truths were this though - before I knew Him, I didn't know what I was doing and where I was going was straight to Hell; furthermore, He has told me what He wants me to do.  I've just been too busy focusing on everything that has gone wrong.  Ever done this?

The list of things that have gone wrong is long, painful, and too personal to air at this time, but my own dirty laundry and sad stories aren't what I want to discuss; it's yours.  Trust me, we'll come back to mine at a different time, but for now - where is your own focus? Is it on everything right in your life?  Or, is it on everything wrong?  Did you know that where you keep your focus is where you're going to live?  If you're focusing on the bitter, nasty divorce you're going through you're going to stay bitter and nasty in how you act and talk.  Long after your divorce is final, if you're still focusing on it, you'll still be living it.  If you're focusing on the drug addiction you can't beat, you're going to stay beat.  If you're broke and focusing on the bad economy, you're going to stay broke and angry over the bad economy.  What about your weight?  If you're struggling with weight (as I am right now) and focus on what a struggle it is to lose those pesky five (or maybe more) pounds, then you're going to keep struggling.  If you're focusing on how badly your teenager acted at school last week, then you're going to stay angry with him.  Get out of last week and move into the moment.  No one controls your focus but you, and if you say that you can't concentrate because of how terribly Bob treated you this morning, then you're letting Bob run your thought life. Change your focus.

Instead of thinking about how your soon to be ex-husband (or ex-wife) is yelling obscenities to you over the phone, focus on how God is going to transform your pain into healing.  If you love God, then He will work everything (everything, not just some things) out for your good (Romans 8:28).  Instead of thinking about the drug addiction you can't beat, focus on a future free from drugs and start to see yourself as sober.  As long as you term yourself an "addict" you'll stay one.  Add "recovered" in front of it and you'll start to see yourself that way.   Focus on sobriety, not addiction.  Instead of thinking about how broke you are and how bad the economy is, focus on how rich you are in other areas and commit to better budgeting practices.  Instead of focusing on how miserably un-fun dieting is, direct your mind to the payoff.  Focus on the reward of weight loss, not the actual act of weight loss.  Instead of thinking about how poorly your son or daughter behaved in school last week, focus on what a gentle heart he or she has.  Don't let your mind stay in last week where they made mistakes.  Bring your mind to the present or else you'll miss what they're doing right today.

It's tremendously easy to say, and much more difficult to put into practice, I know.  The answer?  In all things, put God first in your mind.  (Proverbs 3:6).  I'm sure you've noticed that it's not easy to change our focus simply because we want to.  I was recently in a set of circumstances that imprisoned my mind.  I couldn't think of anything else, and every attempt to redirect my focus only made me think of it more.  It was a case of  hope meets uncertainty, and my thought life had been reduced to thinking of nothing else.  I desperately wanted to shift gears and relocate my thoughts, but couldn't.  It took God's help, and whenever you realize it's time to change focus, you will need His help too.  If you don't know whether or not you need to change your focus, then ask yourself if you're happy.  Are you smiling more than you're crying? Laughing more than you're yelling?  If you're not, then take a focus check and ask God for the strength it takes to redirect - and it does take His strength to change our focus, especially from a negative to positive.  Let the following scriptures help get you started:

Do you not know?  Have you not heard?  The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth.  He will not grow tired or weary, and His understanding no one can fathom.  He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak.  Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall, but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength.  They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint."   
Isaiah 40:28-31

So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God.  I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.  --Isaiah 41:10

I can do everything through Him who gives me strength --Philippians 4:13

You will keep in perfect peace him whose mind is steadfast (on You) because he trusts in You. --Isaiah 26:3   

Whatever you have going on in your life right now, it's not too much for God. He wants nothing more than for you to drop it at His feet and ask for His help. If you don't know God, then ask Him to introduce Himself to you. He created you, gave you the free will to decide whether or not you want to know Him, and is waiting on you to invite Him into your life.  He wont ever force His way in, so don't assume that He will.  He leaves the decision and invitation up to us.  If your focus has been dark, let it be renewed by the light of His love.  Walking with God has been the most challenging journey on which I've ever been, but I can promise this - it is by far the most precious and rewarding.  There is no love like God's.  When you search for a new focus, ask Him to be part of it. Don't look at your circumstances; look up.    

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