Before starting school, I took our oldest, Taylor, to get her a physical. As it turned out, she couldn’t pass the eye exam. So, I took her to the eye doctor and she picked out these adorable glasses. The day we picked up her glasses, which were primarily for reading, she wore them all the way home. I remember her saying, “Mom, I can see the leaves on the trees. Before they just looked like one big blob.“ Without glasses Taylor’s perspective was off, things were out of focus. When your vision is clear, you can live with eternal perspective.
Perspective is defined as “looking through; seeing clearly; the capacity to view things in their true relation of relative importance.” Eternal perspective, is God’s way of seeing. When we have God’s perspective, we view our lives and evaluate what is important from His viewpoint.
There are three things that can distort our focus or perspective: circumstances, what other people think and distractions or busyness in our lives.
Each of us could sit down and write a glowing list of all the positives in our lives and we could also write a list of the sobering negatives. Both lists are true, but the focus of each list is very different. Focus is the question. When faced with a difficult circumstance, we can either look at the mud and be pulled down farther or lift our eyes and see the stars. Each of us has a choice to make about how we look at life. This is a choice that we make daily. Where will your focus be?
Paul writes in Philippians 4:11-13, “I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do everything through him who gives me strength.” Christ needs to be our focus and not the circumstances. They change from day to day, but God is unchanging and steadfast.
In Isaiah 41:10, it says “So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” This is one of my favorite verses. God promises that not only is He with us, but that He will strengthen and uphold us. All we need to do is direct our focus onto Him, instead of getting lost in our circumstances.
So many times, our focus gets lost in trying to please other people or worry about what they might think. We can become nearsighted, not just our eyesight, but in our life focus. We don’t know why we’re here or we’re going. People simply lose sight of the bigger picture — forgetting who we are and that we are here for a reason.
This past July, Mitch and I went to visit a friend’s church in Davenport, Iowa. It is not your “typical” church. There are not pews, they have round tables and chairs. There is a coffee bar in the back, as well as, refreshments. Tony, the pastor, doesn’t preach, he teaches and not from a pulpit, but from a tall swivel chair up front. It is an informal atmosphere, where people feel comfortable enough to ask questions within the service. They are equipping their church family to reach out to the unsaved in their communities. The Sunday we were there, 23 people were baptized in their outdoor baptismal. It was a pleasure to be a part of that. Things are happening in this church and this community. All because their focus was on God and pleasing Him and following His leading inside of pleasing the people around them. Several churches in that area, who once thought it was awful, have now put tables around the outside of their pews and some are serving coffee. Coffee isn’t the answer, it is focusing on God’s leading and not letting what others think interfere.
In Ephesians 5:15-17, it says “Be very careful, then, how you live – not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil. Therefore, do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord’s will is.” We must make the best use of our time and we need to grasp firmly to what we know to be the will of God.
Paul writes in Philippians 3:10 (Amplified Version), “For my determined purpose is that I may know Him that I may progressively become more deeply and intimately acquainted with Him, perceiving and recognizing and understanding the wonders of His person more strongly and more clearly.” In order to lose the faulty focus that creeps into our lives, we must keep our focus on God. In order to do that, we have to continually be cultivating our relationship with Him.
Anyone that knows me knows that Taylor is not the only one in the family with eye problems. For those of you that have glasses or contacts, I don’t know about you, but I am lost without them. I can hardly make out things that are right in front of me, let alone the items across the room. I am dependent upon my glasses or contacts to bring my vision back into focus. How many of us need to “refocus” our lives? We have fallen victim to the societal pressures to do more and be more involved and simply go, go, go. Although, all of these things are not necessarily bad. The problem arises when activities, work, school, schedules are pulling us away from what is most important — our relationship with God.
In Psalm 78:4 it says, “We will not hide them from their children; we will tell the next generation the praiseworthy deeds of the Lord, his power and the wonders he has done.” The process of living, day in and day out, tends to dilute and divert our focus. We become so busy that we have no time to consider how we live. To maintain focus in the grind of daily life, picture life as a tree.
* trunk – represents our relationship with Christ
* limbs – represent the major areas of God-given responsibility (family, job, ministry, personal development)
* branches – represent activities and opportunities in life
We have to go beyond defining life by activities. We must focus not on the branches, but on the trunk and limbs. We need to do what we do because of Jesus and His claim on our lives. And not do things for the same reason. Living a life of focus, means that from time to time we will have to prune our tree. You and I will have to get alone with God and reevaluate our schedules and activities. We need to ask the Lord, “at this point in my life, what must I do to keep my relationship to you vital? What things am I to say yes to and what things am I to say no to?” We may not always get clear direction, but as long as our focus is on God, we will not allow the busyness and distractions of life to pull us away from God.
I want to leave you with this challenge. God gave each one of us a desire for a focused purpose. The question we need to ask ourselves is, what do I want to be? After establishing that, you need to ask yourself, How am I going to become that person?