Monday, April 4, 2011

Maintaining Focus

What holds your attention today? Politics? Poverty? Purposeful faith? Jesus told his disciples that entering the Kingdom of God requires keeping a narrow focus of faith. Walking with Jesus calls for us to make God’s will, Kingdom issues, and seeking Him a priority above all else. A well-focused faith, suggested Jesus, acquires dividends obtained no other way (Mt. 6:33).

Jesus recognized the importance of our focus when he told the parable of the pearl of great price. One obtains that pearl of great price by first determining the location of the treasure, by keeping the field of dreams in full view, and by sacrificing whatever else it takes to obtain that coveted site.

The pearl of great price is that one supreme goal for which you will sacrifice everything else. It is the one objective for which we will gladly surrender anything else that dilutes our focus (Matthew 13:44-45).

When Thomas worried about the uncertainty of not knowing the way, Jesus answered by saying of himself, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. If you really knew me, you would know my Father as well” (John 14:6-7).

Following the kingdom call of Jesus is like writing a magazine article; it calls for a clear vision and a narrow focus. I faced this problem a while back when an editor returned something I submitted, with this comment: “Material you’ve been sending lately doesn’t seem as tightly focused.”

Lack of focus on the part of a writer allows potential readers to wander off at some point and end up on a side track, or at a dead-end, asking “How did I arrive here?”

Lack of focus in our walk with God may result in our not achieving God’s purpose for our life. In turn, that may leave some observer of our witness on a side track, wondering how they got there.

Young Jim Garfield, entered Hiram College fully intent on acquiring an education. By focusing on that single objective, he squeezed six years of study into three years.

Garfield earned his coveted degree while teaching school to feed himself. With singularity of purpose, he “shut the whole world out from his mind save that little portion of it within the range of his studies; knowing nothing of politics or the news of the day, reading no light literature, and engaging in no social recreations that took his time from his books” 1

Staying focused enabled Garfield to win an eventual seat in Congress. Later, that singularity of purpose boosted him into the Presidency. His intensity of purpose show when he reflected on those people who criticized him most severely. “I would rather be beaten in right,” Garfield concluded, “than succeed in wrong.”2

Seek first the Kingdom of Heaven, said Jesus, and the other "stuff" will be added in as you need it.
1 General James S. Brisbin, James A. Garfield. Philadelphia: Hubbard Brothers, 1880, p. 72.
2 Garfield, p. 28l.

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