Distracted driving has become a major issue in our world today. Many accidents occur and people are killed because a driver was distracted; perhaps talking on their cell phone; or checking their Facebook feed or Instagram. They were not keeping their eyes on the road. Consequently, the move in our state of Minnesota is to require cell phones to be used hands-free. Many other states and countries already have this law in place or forbid driving while using a phone altogether.
As it is with driving undistracted, so it is with pursuing God’s focus for our lives. In a previous Langstaff Letter, we challenged people to think about ‘What is Your Focus?’ and how we need to find God’s focus for our lives and pursue it intensely. Jesus intentionally pursued the Father’s plan for Him to go to Calvary to redeem us. Now, it is one thing to have a focus in our lives. However, it is another thing to pursue it intensely. Pursuing it intensely requires perseverance; the ability to stay true to the focus and vision that God has for you. Here are some ideas to help you ‘Stay in Focus.’
CHOOSE TO DISCARD
It is not only what you chose in life, but it is also what you are prepared to lay aside in order to remain focused. Hebrews 12:1 reminds us to ‘lay aside every weight and the sin which does so easily ensnare us.’ This includes laying aside sinful practices, but it also includes laying aside things that may not necessarily be wrong in themselves, but which would weigh us down or distract us from what our focus should be. It is like a runner trying to run a race dressed in a winter coat. Personally, I had to lay aside architecture, something I had trained to do, in order to become a minister. I could not have effectively done both.
Have you identified the things that God wants you to lay aside?
FOCUS ON ONE MAIN THING ABOVE EVERYTHING ELSE
This does not mean you do not do anything else. Rather, it just means there is one thing which is your primary focus. Jesus was like that as He, ‘set His face to go to Jerusalem’ and fulfill His God-given purpose. Paul also chose to focus on one thing. In Philippians 4:13-14 he wrote, ‘No, dear brothers and sisters, I have not achieved it, but I focus on this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead, I press on to reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us.’
Have you clarified your main focus?
Zeal is what I like to call the ‘Plus Factor’ in life and leadership. Jesus had zeal in the pursuit of His goals. When He cleansed the temple, His disciples remembered that it was written, ‘Zeal for Your house has eaten Me up’ (John 2:17). Likewise, Paul was also a man of zeal. He was zealous before he became a Christian in persecuting the Christians and he carried that zeal over into his ministry.
He told the Galatians, ‘not to be weary in well doing for in due season we shall reap if we faint not’ (Galatians 6:9). He exhorted the Corinthians to ‘be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord’ (I Corinthians 15:58).
Have you developed zeal?
Most people who succeed, don’t just depend on natural ability alone but learn to be disciplined so as to keep focused. Discipline is a basic requirement and it is related to ‘self-control,’ one of the fruits of the Spirit.
One of the sayings I love is by a famed college football coach, ‘It is not the will to win but the will to prepare to win.’ Preparation requires discipline.
Have you cultivated discipline in your life?
LEARN TO PERSEVERE
As a young Christian, I was taken by a particular scripture in Matthew 10:22 which states, ‘But he who endures to the end will be saved.’ I saw what was required; not just to make a good start, but the call to persevere so as to finish well. Life is not a short sprint. It is more like a marathon. Anyone who runs a marathon knows the need to persevere. All of us will face obstacles, setbacks, disappointment, and frustrations that will require us to persevere no matter what circumstances and challenges we are facing.
Have you learned to persevere?
In the pursuit of the focus to our life, we can have the joy that comes with the promise of success. In Hebrews 12:2 there is the example of Jesus ‘who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.’ In the midst of the agony of the cross, Jesus experienced the joy of knowing what was to come. We need to see life the same way. We need to see what lies ahead of us, even in heaven above.
Do you anticipate joy?
BE EMPOWERED BY THE SPIRIT
The great way to keep our focus is to realize that we don’t have to do it in our own strength. The Lord has promised us the power of the Holy Spirit. One of the last promises Jesus gave to His disciples was the promise, ‘You shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you’ (Act 1:8).
Have you received the power of the Holy Spirit in your life?
Let me finish with a story of a man that had a life long focus. This is taken from a devotional by longtime friend Bob Gass entitled ‘The Word for You Today.’ Bob Gass went to heaven in early June. He had a wonderful ministry including preaching, writing and supporting needy children in Romania. Here is one of his devotionals.
Glenn Cunningham was born on a Kansas farm and educated in a one-room school house. He and his brother were responsible for keeping the school’s fire going. One morning, as the boys poured kerosene on the live coals to get the fire started before school, the stove blew sky high. Glenn rushed toward the door, then realized his brother had fallen and was not moving. He went back to help, suffering terrible burns in the process. In the end his brother died and Glenn was hospitalized with severe burns on his legs. The tragedy seemed to mark the end to his dream of running track. Still, he was determined to walk again – which the doctors said wouldn’t happen, but he did. Then he began to run. Through many periods of discouragement and disappointment he kept running and getting faster. He mastered the mile. Eventually, he set his sights on the international record for his distance and broke it. Then he went on to set a new world record. What kept him running? He said it was thinking about his brother. When you feel discouraged and want to quit, think about Jesus. ‘ Let us run with endurance the race that God has set before us. We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith. Because of the joy awaiting Him, He endured the cross, disregarding the shame. Now he is seated in the place of honor beside God’s throne. Think of all . . . He endured. . . Then you won’t become weary and give up.’ (Hebrews 12:1-3 NLT).
Glenn Cunningham in 1934 ran the mile in four minutes, eight seconds setting the world’s fastest indoor record. That same year, he shaved off another second off that record to run the fastest mile at that time.
You can receive copies of ‘The Word for Today’ at bobgass.com