Focus Part 5
From Idea to Action
by: Lori Hickox-Monjaras
The time has come to bring this series of articles to a close, so this will be my last blog on Focus. Over the past few months we have looked at how hiding away from God and trying to cover up the darkest parts of ourselves shifts our focus from God onto ourselves. We can also loose focus when we see the world from a worldly perspective instead of a heavenly one, and when we forget to forgive ourselves and others for the transgressions we commit. There are many things in our busy world that pull us and demand our attention. Things that keep us so occupied that we fail to focus on that which should be first and foremost in our lives, God! But scripture gives us guidance on how to regain our focus and put our lives back in balance.
Consider these three simple things:
*Reading Scripture regularly
*Seek out and fellowship with other believers
*Lift up all of those who touch your life
Isaiah 34:16 reminds us to, “Seek ye out of the book of the Lord, and READ…” We are to look to the scriptures for guidance, comfort, and wisdom. There is nothing that I’ve written that God has not revealed to me first through scripture and then through experience. Focusing on the word of God builds your foundation of faith. It helps you to see and understand that our lives have a plan and that when we commit to the plan we find ourselves less at odds and more content. Seek God through scripture and use your daily devotional time to build up your spirit and nurture your spiritual gifts. Like a father he wants to draw close to you and share his wisdom. Allow him that opportunity by spending time with Him in the Word.
But reading scripture isn’t enough. You must also talk about what you are learning with others. As a teacher I spent many years thinking that the profession was one of isolation and solitude. But when I came out of my classroom and engaged in collaboration with my colleagues I found that my practice was profoundly changed. The same is true of the Christian spirit. What we learn on our own is only the first step. To truly understand and celebrate the blessings of our faith journey it needs to be shared with others. Through this sharing, or fellowship we refine our beliefs and understandings about God and his work. We celebrate the blessings He has showed on us. But even more important we build one another up in the body. We nurture each other, catch one another when we falter and experience the joy of miracles in each other’s lives. The body of Christ was meant to be just that, a body. Acts 2:42 reminds us to continue “…steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers.” So gather with fellow believers, share a meal and spend time in with one another and your Lord.
Finally, you should lift up the people around you in prayer. Remember that the emphasis of this series of articles has been to move you away from things that distract you from God. There is nothing more distracting than those around you who do not share your faith. They chip away at your beliefs little by little with their petty gossip, annoying behaviors, and worldly pursuits. But what if instead of cutting them out of your life you refocused your negative energy into positive prayers? It is easy to pray for those we love, the difficulties lie in praying for those we find most frustrating. Several years ago, when I began writing about my FAITH journey I really was convicted to put this into action. I had particularly difficult group of students that year. I decided that each day I would focus on one student and pray for them and their needs. This practice did not transform my students but it transformed me and my attitude toward my students. God was front and center in my classroom, in my public school classroom, and I was aware of His presence every moment of the day. My actions became gentler and more patient. I saw myself as His agent in my work and that helped me to become the teacher I was meant to be. I wasn’t focused on me and my needs and what the students were doing to me; I became focused on how God could use me to meet their needs. It was a simple shift of attitude but it made a world of difference. Since then I have continued to lift up both students and staff as well as others in my life that pull my focus away from God. Instead of feeling overwhelmed and frustrated I feel comforted and renewed because I don’t have to face everything alone. ”but exhort one another daily, while it is called today; lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin. For we are made partakers of Christ, if we hold the beginning of our confidence stedfast until the end…” Hebrews 3:13-14
There you have it. Staying focused is our first step in building our F.A.I.T.H. When we are focused on God we cannot wallow in self-pity, self-hate, or fear. God is the light of the world illuminating all the dark recesses where self-recrimination can live. To focus on Him is to commit to a life of moving ever forward toward an eternal plan that is perfect in its design. Our focus will allow us to step into our place within that plan and to fulfill that calling that God has planted deep in our hearts. Are you ready to devote your focus to Him? Enjoy the music of Chris Tomlin as you think about it.
While Part 5 of Focus ends the discussion of how focus on God can transform your life I hope that you will continue to read my blog as I begin a new series of articles on Appealing to God. This new series will look at how prayer transforms and heals us. If you are interested in reading more of the message contained in Five Weeks Into F.A.I.T.H please download the book at Smashwords and keep following my blog each month as I discuss my journey into faith.