Saturday, March 5, 2011

Reflections from the book of John #15: Focus

At the beginning of our Life Group quarter, each member chose a word, something to pray for, something that encapsulated what we would like from God.

My word is focus. I think I said that in a previous post and so I did a random internet search to find that particular post, and apparently I use that word frequently.  Really, I had no idea.

On the other hand, the things we focus on have the power to shape the way we view the world.

Now, that's not why I chose the word.  I chose the word focus because lately I feel very distracted and at the time I wasn't actually working on my thesis.  I wanted to focus on my thesis and get it done so that I can graduate so I can get a job and focus on other things.

And so I set up an accountability system with a friend who's writing a textbook.  Essentially we will get together to check on progress every two or three weeks and in the off weeks, we'll bug each other by email to hopefully stay on track.

And after that I created a plan, what I need to do, with some actual dates.  So far, I've missed my deadline for writing the introduction, but I'm working on it, and so I'm making headway.  So I suppose you could say I'm learning to focus.

Except that I still have interruptions.  Making dinner.  Taking time to have coffee with a friend I haven't seen in six months.  Responding to a friend's family emergency.  Helping my son with a paper.  Listening to my daughter talk about her life.

In other words, living and caring for other people get in the way of things like writing a thesis.

And it's not like I've eliminated the other distractions in my life, like when I'm on the computer, I check my email every fifteen minutes or so.  I also check Facebook.  And sometimes I get bored and watch an episode of House Hunters or Law and Order SVU.

I justify this by telling myself that I need "me" time.  And I'm not saying that "me" time isn't valuable, but as I reflected on my frustrations with lack of focus, I realized that I want all my time to be "me" time.  Technically, writing a thesis is "me" time.

And I also realized that what I need more than "me" time and more then thesis time, is God time.  And what I need more than focus on the thesis is focus on God.  Because when I focus on God, the other things seem to fall in place.  I get great ideas on how to organize my evidence, how to link paragraphs, what words to use.  And I enjoy laughing with friends and feel refreshed when I am with them.

More than that, I stay connected to the God who made me, who motivates me, who loves me.

  • Hebrews 12:2 instructs us to fix our eyes on Jesus.  In other words, to focus on him.  
  • Matthew 6:33 instructs us to seek first the Kingdom of God and then all the other things will fall into place.  
  • John 15 tells us Jesus is the vine, and we are the branches.  If we want to bear fruit, if we want our lives to matter, we want to remain in him.  

I don't know why I forget to focus on Jesus.  I don't know why I forget to "remain" in him.  And yet, I do, and I don't think I'm alone.

And so the question arises, how do we focus on Jesus, how do we remain in him, when somehow we've gotten distracted, disconnected, and our vision has become blurry.

Normally I start by reading the Psalms.  Worship, either through music or prayer or meditating on God's Word helps me to focus on God, to remember him throughout my day.  And when I remember him, I talk to him.  And when I talk to him, I remember what he says in his word.  And when I do that, I experience his love. And so it's kind of this circle thing.

But when I lose focus, I have to start somewhere.  I don't always "feel" like reading the Psalms or other favorite Scriptures, but I do it anyway.

And, and there's one other thing about remaining.  Jesus wants us to obey his commandments, and this is his commandment, that we love one another.

I really do want to finish my thesis.  But more than that, I want to focus on the God, who has given me everything, who has given me a mind for learning and words to write and insight in research.  I want to focus on him because "those who love their life in this world will lose it and those who care nothing for it in this world will keep it for eternity" (John 12:25)

I want to follow Jesus wherever he goes.  I want to remain in him.  I want to focus on him.

Nothing else matters more than that.  

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