Sunday, January 5, 2020

A New Focus for A New Year

“Here’s what I want you to do: 
Find a quiet, secluded place so you won’t be tempted to role-play before God. 
Just be there as simply and honestly as you can manage. 
The focus will shift from you to God, and you will begin to sense his grace." 
Matthew 6:6 MSG

In the beautiful movie, The Art of Racing in the Rain, race car driver Denny Swift says, “The car goes where the eyes go.”  I think we can take that basic concept and apply it to our lives-our life goes where our focus is. It's the start of a brand new year. We can either face the unknown future of 2020 with a "que sera sera" attitude of whatever will be will be, or we can choose our focus for the coming year. 

Shakespeare wrote these beautiful words,

"...Love is not love 
Which alters when it alteration finds, 
Or bends with the remover to remove. 
O no! it is an ever-fixed mark 
That looks on tempests and is never shaken; 
It is the star to every wand'ring bark..."

To Shakespeare, love was the ever-fixed mark that could withstand all of the storms and tempests and unknowns in life. But, you and I know the truth-human love is weak and fallible. As Christ followers we know that God, Who is love in all of its fullness, is our ever-fixed mark that enables us to walk through storms and tempests and life's unknowns. 

If it's true that that life will go where my focus is, how do I shift my focus to God? How do I make Him the ever-fixed mark for my life?  Here are some things that I have found helpful.

1) Recognize that our default focus is always self. We are born self-focused. As speaker Joyce Meyer is known to say, the constant refrain of Self is, "I think. I feel. I want." We can become mindful about what we are thinking about. We don't have to remain helpless victims to our wandering self-willed mind. We can recognize and reject wrong thinking and change the focus of our thoughts with God's help.

2) Recognize that we can be complete honest with God about anything and everything.
One of the best ways to clear our mind from things that are cluttering it up and keeping us from a right focus is to get gut level honest with God. God knows us better than we know ourself. He sees every single thing that is going on in our mind and heart, whether it's good, bad or ugly. Once we bring our inward clutter into the light of God's presence, it no longer has the power to keep us distracted and off focus.

3) Choose to focus on God.
Whether you have five minutes or an hour, start the day focusing on God. Focusing on our own perceptions and thoughts about God is not what I am suggesting. Our self-created image of Who God is is no more the real God than if we spent our quiet time focusing on a manmade idol. What we need is some rock solid Biblical truth about the character of God as found in His word. The Psalms of David are a prime example of what I am referring to. David's Psalms are most frequently an outpouring of his troubles, faults and failures in honesty to God, followed by a shift in focus to praising God for Who He is. Here is an example from Psalm 3:1-4, (Amplified)
Lord, how they are increased who trouble me! Many are they who rise up against me.Many are saying of me, There is no help for him in God. Selah [pause, and calmly think of that]! But You, O Lord, are a shield for me, my glory, and the lifter of my head. With my voice I cry to the Lord, and He hears and answers me out of His holy hill.Selah [pause, and calmly think of that]!
I love how David clearly shows us how to get a new focus. Notice how David pours out his troubles to God, then shifts his focus to God's character and then stops and meditates on the truth of Who God is. I don't know about you, but I need a fresh focus, not just for the new year, but for each new day! Thankfully, it's not impossible or difficult. God has graciously showed us the way to a fresh new focus.

1 comment:

  1. I truly needed this today. It is EXACTLY what I needed to read and where I needed to be! Thank you Elizabeth for following Jesus in your real life!


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