While giving my side of the office an extreme makeover, I came upon my eighth-grade graduation photo, Woolwich Central School Class of 1966. Of the 27 kids in the group, 26 were smiling at the camera. One girl in the front row was looking off to the right. Guess who.
It reminds me of a piece I read where the author wrote, “Dear God, help me to be more focused … oh look, a bird! … in prayer.” Alas, I can relate.
With so much going on in the world and instant information overload through television and the Internet, it’s easy to get distracted and lose our focus. But distraction plays right into the devil’s hands. It can take us away from daily Bible reading (I’ll catch up later); church (God knows I could do with a day off now and again); even family time (just need to check my e-mail and get all the updates on what’s happening in my social networks).
Before you know it you’re a hundred pages behind in your read-the-Bible-through-in-a-year plan (that would be me); you’ve missed the Sunday school play about what would happen if Jesus hadn’t come; and your children have left home and are raising your grandchildren halfway across the country.
As long as Peter looked at Jesus, he was able to walk on water. It was only when he shifted his focus to his surroundings that he began to sink (Matthew 14:29-30). When we give in to the busyness of life and take our focus off the Lord, we can easily become overwhelmed with the details of life.
Lately it appears we’re all buying into the do-more-with-less-time mantra and are developing the attention span of a gnat. In order to stay on top of things, we’ve become a sound-bite society, texting in short bursts, Tweeting in just a few characters.
Follow any morning news show and you’ll find each feature rarely lasts more than five minutes, and they’ve already told you most of the story in their frequent teasers “coming up in our next half-hour .…” We have instant messaging, meals in minutes, and we even have a Reader’s Digest version of the Bible. Really.
Psalm 46:10 says, “Be still and know that I am God.” Is it possible to be still in this techno-crazy world? Of course it is. Every electronic device comes with an off switch. By employing it, we can set aside a few minutes of quiet time every day to talk to our heavenly Father and absorb his Word so we can navigate confidently through this life.
I remember getting my first Bible from Mom and Dad for Christmas when I was 10 years old. I was so excited I read it through that year and try to do so every year. Sometimes I make it; sometimes I don’t. But there’s never a time I don’t learn something new along the way.
Several years ago during a discussion about the Bible, one man said his wife had read it once. That seemed to be enough for him. How sad he didn’t bother to read it himself, but he’s not alone. Many Christians in our country don’t know their Bibles, don’t care to open them up and look inside. And it’s no wonder, because churches have followed the path of the church of Ephesus, in Revelation 2:4, and “left [their] first love.” That would be their focus on God.
Faith in Jesus Christ as Savior is the only foundation of Christianity. Yet in an effort to increase numbers and not offend new members, more and more places of worship are focusing on a humanistic being-all-things-to-all-people approach instead of bringing all that Jesus Christ offers to all people.
We, as believers, need to get our focus on the Bible, but where do we start? Jeremiah 6:16 offers great advice: “Thus says the Lord: ‘Stand in the ways and see, And ask for the old paths, where the good way is, And walk in it; Then you will find rest for your souls.” That’s the good part. The remainder of the verse shows we ha-ven’t changed much in more than 2,000 years: “But they said, ‘We will not walk in it.’”
We feed our bodies three times a day. How often do we feed our souls? True soul food is found in Jeremiah 15:16: “Thy words were found, and I did eat them; and thy word was unto me the joy and rejoicing of mine heart: for I am called by thy name, O Lord God of hosts.”
If your soul is fuzzy and out of focus, consider the words of hymn writer Helen H. Lemmel, “Turn your eyes upon Jesus, Look full in His wonderful face; and the things of earth will grow strangely dim In the light of His glory and grace.”
Where do we find God’s face, his words, his character? “But we have the mind of Christ” (1st Corinthians 2:16). Take a look, it’s in HIS BOOK.
Brenda J. Norris is assistant Sunday school leader and choir director at the West Lubec Methodist Church. She may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Voices is a weekly commentary by Maine people who explore issues affecting spirituality and religious life.