I don’t know about you, but personally, I am, and have been, having a hard time for the past few months in the discipline of staying focus. There are so many times when I’ve been sorely tempted to stray off onto tangents, and even when these tangents are supposedly “good things,” it became obvious that in saying “Yes” to entertaining them, I was saying “No” to what I actually needed to be doing instead.
With every choice we make, we are saying “yes” to something, and then also “no” to something else.
When I choose to say “Yes” to reading something ugly or passive aggressive, I’m saying “No” to something that is positive or uplifting, something righteous and from God that could have helped me on my path. When I travel down that road of entertaining things that stem from other people’s unrighteousness, I’m straying off the course that I’m supposed to be on, that God desires me to stay on.
When I was finally convicted of this constant temptation to stray off the path of being focused on the purpose of my life, God’s Will for my life, it came after a long, wonderful evening with my parents when I was driving home on a long stretch of open highway as the sun was setting and dusk was appearing. The wonder of the peaceful silence, the lack of cars around me, and the speed of the highway suddenly propelled my thoughts as God pricked my conscience that this was what He wanted me to do at this time. To stay focus.
There were many exits I was passing that could lead me to places other than my purposed destination, but they would only distract me from getting to my goal (home), and finding rest and sleep – renewal and rejuvenation. These off-roads would delay me in my journey, and pro-long my eventual arrival. And so it is with distractions and temptations to stray off onto tangents in our spiritual journey, or to go down roads we were never meant to travel.
When I got home, I drew out the picture I saw in my head of a road going straight that was my purpose and God’s Will for my life, and little roads that led off of it in different directions. I named each of these little roads that led me down unrighteous paths, and each one, as I drew it out and named it, suddenly became so convicting to me how wrong it actually was, and how much of a sinful distraction it was to living a righteous, purposeful, and productive life! The beauty of it’s clarity was breathtaking, and this picture has been burned into my mind ever since.
Staying focus is not only a discipline of physically obeying by doing the right things, it is a mental obedience to adhere our thought-life to the right things. Our thoughts eventually determine our actions. If I am constantly (or even sometimes) thinking about things I shouldn’t be, wandering into places to look for contention with people I know I have friction with already, I will eventually end up following through on these thoughts with actions that take me off course. I have to be mentally on course, staying focus, if I ever want to achieve and keep my physical obedience on course and staying focus.
Here are some verses that I’ve been dwelling on for the past few months regarding Staying Focus, from the Amplified Bible, because I love it and am a complete nerd who actually talks this way (with parenthesis because I’m awkward lol). If you’ve never read the Amplified version, I encourage you to take a look at these scriptures with a fresh eye and mind attentive to hearing them explained in depth based on the actual language used in the text:
“Set your mind and keep focused habitually on the things above (the heavenly things), not things that are on the earth (which have only temporal value).” Colossians 3:2 (AMP)
“Blessed [fortunate, prosperous, and favored by God] is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked [following their advice and example],
Nor stand in the path of sinners,
Nor sit [down to rest] in the seat of scoffers (ridiculers).
But his delight is in the law of the Lord,
And on His law [His precepts and teachings] he [habitually] meditates day and night.
And he will be like a tree firmly planted [and fed] by streams of water,
Which yields its fruit in its season;
Its leaf does not wither;
And in whatever he does, he prospers [and comes to maturity].
The wicked [those who live in disobedience to God’s law] are not so,
But they are like the chaff [worthless and without substance] which the wind blows away.
Therefore the wicked will not stand [unpunished] in the judgment,
Nor sinners in the assembly of the righteous.
For the Lord knows and fully approves the way of the righteous,
But the way of the wicked shall perish.” Psalm 1:1-5 (AMP)
“Let your eyes look directly ahead [toward the path of moral courage]
And let your gaze be fixed straight in front of you [toward the path of integrity].” Proverbs 4:25 (AMP)
“For those who are living according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh [which gratify the body], but those who are living according to the Spirit, [set their minds on] the things of the Spirit [His will and purpose].” Romans 8:5 (AMP)
“Finally, believers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable and worthy of respect, whatever is right and confirmed by God’s word, whatever is pure and wholesome, whatever is lovely and brings peace, whatever is admirable and of good repute; if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think continually on these things [center your mind on them, and implant them in your heart].” Philippians 4:8 (AMP)
““You will keep in perfect and constant peace the one whose mind is steadfast [that is, committed and focused on You—in both inclination and character],
Because he trusts and takes refuge in You [with hope and confident expectation].” Isaiah 26:3 (AMP)
“I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go;
I will counsel you [who are willing to learn] with My eye upon you.” Psalm 32:8 (AMP)
“The [intrinsically] good woman ( text says man) produces what is good and honorable and moral out of the good treasure [stored] in his heart; and the [intrinsically] evil woman (man) produces what is wicked and depraved out of the evil [in his heart]; for her mouth speaks from the overflow of her heart.” Luke 6:45 (AMP)
“How blessed and favored by God are those whose way is blameless [those with personal integrity, the upright, the guileless],
Who walk in the law [and who are guided by the precepts and revealed will] of the Lord.” Psalm 119:1 (AMP)