Renewing Our Focus
Do you remember what it was like to be a kid, and you saw something that you just couldn’t resist? Maybe it was a cake that your mom made...or cookies that grandma had baked and they were cooling on the rack...or maybe a freshly painted fence that your dad was just finishing up? Regardless of what it was for you...it’s likely you heard the words, “Don’t touch that!” Those harsh words that no kid wants to hear; because now it was not only forbidden, it became the central point of your focus. Even when you walked away from it, you would glance back over your shoulder to see it; and if you were like me, you stared too long and probably heard it again, “I said Don’t touch that!”
Isn’t it interesting that the more we try to stop thinking about something, we find ourselves consumed with the very thing we are trying to forget. Oh, the human mind, what an incredibly complex thing! We are so easily distracted, and yet when we try to focus on something else, it’s like everything else in the world has disappeared except for that one forbidden thing. It’s a wonder we ever get anything done.
I was thinking about “FOCUS” this week. I actually was asking the Lord about something, spending time in prayer and asking for His direction. It sounds like the right thing to do, doesn’t it? Aren’t we supposed to pray without ceasing, and make our requests known to God? Doesn’t James tell us that if we lack wisdom, we should ask of God? How about Proverbs, where it says to acknowledge Him in all our ways and He will direct our path? Yes, yes, yes...I know all that. I agree with it, and I know it’s true. And yet in that moment, I felt something different. So, I stopped for a moment and just sat there to wait and see what the Holy Spirit was up to. And then I grabbed my pen and jotted this down in my journal:
“How many times have we looked to the Lord for an answer? It’s not a bad thing – it’s just not the best thing.”
Don’t kick me out of the church just yet...let me talk this through for a moment.
I was looking for an answer – a solution to a particular issue. That’s not necessarily wrong. But in reality, I was focused on the problem...hoping God would step in and bring the answer. And that means...if I’m focused on the situation, then I’m not focused on the Lord. Hmm...Houston I think we have a problem.
Let’s recall the story of Jesus feeding the 5000 in Matthew 14. If you know the story, you will remember that large crowds had followed Jesus, He had compassion and healed many of them. And then evening started to settle in and the disciples got nervous because they saw a problem: a lot of people...and no dinner. Verse 15 shows us they were seeing only a problem,
“...this is a remote place, and it’s getting late. Send the crowds away, so they can go to the villages and buy themselves some food.”
From a natural perspective, it sounded like a good plan...but it wasn’t the best plan.
The disciples focused on the problem, instead of focusing on Jesus. They saw only a shortage of food, and not the One who was literally the abundance of Heaven in the flesh.
Now, we know the unlimited mercy of God stepped in, because Jesus released the provision of Heaven, and nobody went to bed hungry that night. He is always better than we think He is. But we can learn from this account to keep our focus on Jesus...and not simply on the problem that He needs to correct, or the direction we are seeking.
I think about the woman with the issue of blood. She knew if she could just get a hold of Him, then she would be healed. What a powerful lesson for us. If we can just push through all the crowd – all the busy schedule – all the distractions – and just get a hold of Him, then everything we need will fall into place. Selah.
Thankfully, we at Fusion have a great place to start, in worship. One of our highest priorities is intimate worship and connection with the Father. Whether you’ve been to one service at Fusion, or a hundred services, you know that we will gladly worship for a long time. It’s not something we have to do...it’s something we get to do. It’s the very place we can connect with the heart of God. In this intimate encounter, it’s not about giving Him worship so that we can get something from Him. That would be reducing our worship time to a business transaction. True worship happens when we set aside all the stuff, and just gaze upon Him, surrender to Him, acknowledge who He is, and put our focus on His beautiful face.
There’s that word again – FOCUS. Our society makes it difficult for us to focus on one thing. Between the demands of work and family, emails and text messages, endless phone calls, and yes even the good things of church community...we still need to focus on the one thing: intimate connection with our wonderful Savior. If we are busy doing all the other things, but are neglecting the most important thing, we are missing out on our purpose.
Have you ever watched a horse race, and noticed that some of the horses will have on blinders? Especially the younger horses. There is a reason for that. Horses’ eyes are basically positioned on the sides of their heads, giving them about 330-degree range of vision. Having that wide viewing range allows them to see danger coming, but it also causes them to be easily spooked or distracted. The blinders will limit their range of view, but it helps them stay focused on the race before them.
“Well, that’s great”, you may think to yourself, “but I’m not a horse”. No argument there. However, we do need ways to deal with the distractions, and keep our focus on Jesus, not just so He will give us the answer we need, but because He is ALL we need.
That’s why I mentioned worship. I think it’s one of the greatest tools in our tool belt, and it should be pulled out for regular use...not just on Sunday morning. Regular times of worship will help to push the distractions out of view, and enable us to realign with Heaven’s heartbeat. Worship can be those “blinders” for us, so to speak.
Now, let’s revisit that conversation I was having with the Lord, asking for His direction. The Holy Spirit had the audacity to interrupt my prayer time and caused me to look at things differently. (I love it when He does that!) Instead of me simply asking Him for direction, the Holy Spirit began to remind me of who He is, and how I had experienced Him in the past. He reminded me of things I’ve seen, and testimonies I had heard. He showed me countless times where He had provided and been faithful to lead. As I began to agree with Him, and partner with Him by giving thanks, I found I wasn’t really focused on looking for an answer anymore. I was perfectly happy to marvel at all He had already done and had complete confidence He would do it again. And in that moment, it was much easier for my heart to connect to Him. I wasn’t trying to get anything from Him (even something right and good...) I was just being with Him. It delighted me, and it delighted Him. That’s the intimacy for which I was created.
I’m sure somebody is asking the question “Yeah, but did you get the direction you needed?”
Yes, as a matter of fact I did. Not exactly in the way I expected, but in the way He had planned. You see, His way is always best. And if I can understand that everything He does is good, then I can spend my days focusing on Him in worship, and rest completely in His ability to care for me.
So I encourage you this week, to spend some time in worship. (Don’t stop praying...but be sensitive to what He wants to do.) Give God permission to interrupt you and your ‘normal’ prayer time. Let the Holy Spirit put His blinders on you as you worship, so that you can focus on what is most important. It doesn’t have to be a three- hour time segment; it could be 10 minutes. It’s not about the amount of time...it’s about the level of connection. It’s about knowing Him, the Lover of your soul, and being known by Him. It’s about putting aside something that may be good...in order to lay hold of what is best. It’s about seeking His face...not His hand. It’s about focusing on Jesus...for He alone is our prize. Worship Moments: