Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Maintaining Focus

Up until sometime around 2010 I was the proud owner of a 1999 Ford Taurus station wagon. It had a bazillion miles on it and a thousand issues, and was eventually sold for use as scrap metal and parts. In its final years the old beast spent a lot of time in the shop, quite often at a Firestone Tire & Auto within walking distance of our house. Every time I took it in the mechanics would get the following speech: "There are many things wrong with this car. I know that. But it is here today so that you can fix the ____________. There is nothing else that needs to be done TODAY. Just fix the ____________." Yet it seemed like each and every time this happened they would call me with a list a other problems before fixing the one that had caused me to take them the car in the first place. They were nice enough people, but they constantly frustrated me because they were either unwilling to or incapable of focusing on the task at hand.

There are moments almost every day when in the depths of my soul I question how often Jesus feels that way about me. We have been given a path to trod and have been warned not to get distracted by "the things of this world." It should be relatively simple even though it was never meant to be easy. Believe that God loves us and return that love to God, then share that same love with everyone. Be humble, serving all and caring for all. Don't be judgmental, but rather be encouraging and supportive. Work for peace by offering mercy and grace when others seek revenge or restitution. This is the #NarrowRoad, the path of Jesus. But we run into so many other things we think need to be done and we lose focus. We need to gain material wealth and collect possessions. We need to "fix" those who sin differently than we do, often by sitting in judgment of them. We have the urge to fight for more power and to involve ourselves in politics and the inner workings of the institutional church when those are things that Jesus avoided whenever possible. And we fail to understand that if we want to be great in the eyes of our Savior, then we must become small in the eyes of men. The highway signs on the narrow road do not offer directions to success. They offer an invitation to faithfulness. 

So how do we maintain focus on the #Narrow Road? First and foremost we must surrender to the One who created us, who saved us and who will guide us if we will surrender the driver's seat. Some of the worst theology ever written is on a very popular bumper sticker which exclaims that "GOD is My Co-Pilot!" Newsflash, dear friends- if God is your co-pilot then the wrong person is driving! Surrender and believe. Next we need to spend more time with God in prayer, in study and in quiet communion. The "still small voice" leads us back to the narrow path when we wander if we will only take time to listen for it. And finally, we need to remember the words of Jesus in Matthew 6:34 and "let today's own troubles be enough for today." Like my Taurus, we have many things that need repair in our lives. Jesus calls us live life a day at a time, trusting that God holds the future. To do that we must focus on the tasks we can control. We must love God and love our neighbors. We must give all glory to God. And we must let go of all the chaos swirling around us and "keep our eyes on the prize that is Christ Jesus." The journey down the #NarrowRoad is tricky, and without focus it is easy to end up stuck in a ditch. I know; I've been in several. But the good news is that the grace of God is even better than AAA, and it will have you back on the path in no time flat, ready to try again. Always keep your eyes on the road...

Because of Jesus,

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