There was a season in my life when I was into photography. Back in 1955, I was one of the first people in my circle of friends and business acquaintances that became involved in color photography. Back then, it was colored slides, long before color prints became popular and now, of course, we have everything on cell phones and computers, etc. One of the things I soon discovered about photography was the need to be focused on what you wanted to photograph. Not only having the camera focused, but the subject of the photo focused and framed for the best results. That is how life needs to be. We need to be focused within the framework for our life. If not, we will simply drift through life without any clear direction, goals or vision. What is your focus? Here are some thoughts to get you thinking about the answer to that question.
CALL TO BE FOCUSED
Paul, the apostle, writes about “serving the Lord without distraction.” (I Corinthians 7:35) Dr. David Jeremiah comments on this verse “It’s all important to let nothing distract us from a driving faith in Christ. Hebrews 12:1 tells us to “lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us.” Jesus warned us that if we aren’t careful, the “cares of this world and deceitfulness of riches” can choke the work of the Word of God in our lives (Matthew 13:22). When we live according to God’s plan nothing can distract us. Every day provides a fresh opportunity to rededicate ourselves to the Lord and live with single-minded devotion to Him as we seek to run the race that is set out for us.”
Now, Jesus is the example for us to emulate, regarding having a focus in life.
JESUS AND FOCUS
There is an interesting verse about Jesus in Luke 9:51 that declares “He steadfastly set His face to go to Jerusalem.” Jesus knew why He had come to earth; it was to suffer and die in our place and to take away our sins on Calvary’s cross. Nothing was going to distract Him from the will of the Father on His life, so He set His face steadfastly to go to Jerusalem. There was a determination within Him that drove Him onwards to Jerusalem. Jesus had focus and so should we. What is your focus?
WHAT IS YOUR FOCUS?
What does God want you to focus your life on? To answer that question, we need to hear from God; we need to discern what God has for us to do. Patrick Ondrey, in an article entitled ‘Fractured Focus’ quotes Edward Hollowall from a Harvard Review article, “Nature tends to disorder – focus imposes order – focus requires work – people often avoid work and pain.” His suggested solution is two-fold.
- Recreate the necessary boundaries that technology and other distractions have broken down. Turn the TV off. Close the door to your office. Don’t get online as often. Don’t allow intrusions into your creative thought processes.
- Spend as much time as possible at the intersection of three spheres: What you’re good at; what you like to do; and what adds value to the world. According to Hallowell, “at that intersection lies the land of productivity that will compete with the forces of disorder that work to distract you.”
For a Christian, one would emphasize that in the midst of all those steps one can expect revelation to be given by the Spirit of God in regard to what is His focus for our life.
PURSUE YOUR FOCUS WITH INTENSITY
A one time friend and wonderful Bible teacher Dick Mills once wrote about seeking the Lord with intensity. “In Hebrews 11:6, we read that God is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him. The phrase ‘diligently seek’ in the Greek N.T. comes from the Greek work EKZETEO. The thought behind the word is intensity: being serious about seeking the Lord, being determined and persistent. The energy implied is one that doesn’t stop at a hurdle or obstacle, but instead continues to pursue. Bishop Westcott states, ‘EKZETEO suggest the notion of searching with strenuous endeavor. There is seeking and there is diligent seeking. It is the difference between habitual prayer and intense animated prayer.’ ‘Going through the motions,’ just doesn’t cut it, is what we need to take away. The persistent, determined, fervent, and energetic will always seize the prize. Hosea 10:12 states, “It is now time to seek the Lord till He pours out His blessings.” In our modern expression we would say, ‘It’s time to get with it.’ . . . . . Let’s not be anemic prayer wimps that are embalmed with mediocre indifference and general apathy. . . . It is time to seek the Lord.”
So, the question is are we pursuing God’s focus in our lives with intensity or are we constantly distracted from His plans for our lives.
Tom Landry, a Christian and the famous coach of the Dallas Cowboys once said, “I learned early in sports that to be effective – for a player to play the best he can play – is a matter of concentration and being unaware of distractions, positive or negative.”
FOCUS AT DIFFERENCE STAGES OF LIFE
For the young, I would say, seek the Lord and discern His focus for your life while you are young. Ecclesiastes 12:1 admonishes us to “Remember now your Creator in the days of your youth.” God wants to reveal His plans, His focus in life to you while you are still young.
For those in midlife, I would say it may be a time to reflect on where you are and where you are supposed to go from here on in. Bob Buford wrote a book to help propel people to do just that called ‘Half Time,’ where he uses the analogy of half time in a football game. A time to make adjustments. Take time to pray and reflect on what you are doing with your life and where you should be headed.
For those who are older or retired, I would say it may be time for a completely new focus. I recently retired from being a pastor and I have now had to ask the Lord what His focus is for
me in this stage of my life. God can still do new things. He wants some modern day Calebs who at 85 are ready for a new challenge. God can open up new doors of opportunity to do if you will seek Him.
Have you ever seen videos of a lion tamer, with a stool in his hand, approaching a lion? The lion is somewhat confused faced with four different legs on the stool, not knowing what he is to concentrate on. We can be like that. God wants us to know what His focus is for our life and to be able to say with Paul, “I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 3:14). Let us press on. Recently, I placed a sign on the wall of my study that states, “I consider my life worth nothing to me if only I may finish with joy the race and complete the task God has given me” (Acts 20:24). Let’s do just that as we focus on Jesus and His call on our lives.
I have a sign on my crafting desk that says “Creative minds are rarely tidy”. It sits there as a warning to the casual observer that trying to locate an item in this area may prove to be difficult. And yet when I sit at that desk to create something I know where everything I need is located. Being focused on where God has called me to be to do what He wants me to do when He wants me do it will cut through or in some instances plough through the clutter of my life. We are blessed indeed that Jesus is willing to meet us amid our clutter and help us clear it out of our way so we can live an abundant life in communion with God. One of my favorite sayings is Life like art can get messy sometimes. It reminds me that I may have to roll up my sleeves and be okay with getting dirty and sweaty. It is all about remembering not to lose focus keeping my eyes on my Redeemer.
I LOVE THE LANGSTAFF LETTER! It was a tremendous source of wisdom and encouragement while I was incarcerated and has continued to be a MAJOR BLESSING to me since my release nearly 14 months ago. I LOVE Dr. Alan and Dorothy and thank the Lord for placing them in my life!