Every January all the SIM missionaries on our field get together for a Spiritual Life Conference. We invite a special speaker and spend four days together being richly fed from God's Word, fellowshipping with each other, and just spending time hanging out as a big family.
This year our speaker spoke on the book of Philippians. While listening to the messages, one word kept coming to my attention: focus. Photography is a hobby for me, and “focus” is certainly a word that occurs often in photography. I’ve been thinking a lot about focus in our Christian lives and how photography can illustrate the importance of focus in our Christian lives.
And instead of one long post I'm going to write this as four short ones. The sections will be: focusing on what is near; focusing on what is ahead; focusing on what is behind; and focusing on the big picture.
A photographer can focus on something that is near while the background of the picture will seem blurry or out of focus. In my Christian life, I must focus on what is near, on what I need to do now. I don’t look back and I don’t worry about the future. It doesn't matter if the background is blurry. I just need to see what God has for me in the here and now. I need to trust him for the future and for the present. Photos that focus on something in the foreground often have a beautiful effect called bokeh. I don't have to know the future for my current life to be beautiful.
I know I get distracted by what is going on all around me, too. If I am looking at what everybody else is doing, I'm not focusing on what God wants me to do. It doesn't matter what they are doing or not doing. God is caring for them and dealing with them without my help. What does God want me to do?
I know what task God has given me to do and I need to do it. I must take time each day to rejoice, to obey, and to live in love towards others. I am a disciple of Jesus and I need to be making disciples who follow him. I focus on what is he has put before me and leave the rest up to God.
Today he wants me to focus on loving and obeying him with all my heart, mind, and soul. He wants me to love others. And he wants me to share the gospel and make disciples. I may not see the future clearly, but the present is here now in clear focus.
Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one. Love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. Deuteronomy 6:4
He has showed you, O man, what is good. And what does the LORD require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God. Micah 6:8
All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age. Matthew 28:18-20