I am pretty sure, like me, you feel bombarded with what is going on all around us- the news of CoVid 19, the collapse of the stock market, job loss, and fears for our future. How can we as God’s people keep ourselves in peace during times like these?
“Let your eyes look straight ahead; fix your gaze directly before you.” – Proverbs 4:25
To focus means to center your attention in one direction. When we lose our focus, our motivation starts to fade which can make the quality of what we are doing, decrease.
Often times in life while listening to the voice of God and following His directions, somewhere down the road, we still allow people/circumstances cloud our vision – blinding and distracting us of moving forward.
Horses that pull wagons and carriages wear blinders. Have you ever wondered why? The purpose of these blinders is to prevent the horse from looking anywhere else but forward – it prevents them from becoming distracted or panicked by their surrounding. These horses are on a mission, meaning they cannot afford to be distracted. In life neither do you and me.
With all this being said, these past two weeks have been a challenge for me. I got somewhat discouraged by certain things that were happening and started to forget the reason of the season I am in. I quickly realized I needed to let go of the distractions and refocus my perspective. And just like the carriage pulling horses, I needed to put my blinders on.
Keeping focus is difficult. But taking your eyes off of God’s purpose is not an option. It will lead you in the wrong direction.
Where is your focus fixed on today? Anxiety? Discouragement? Hopelessness? Are you focusing on what is happening around instead of in front? Narrow down your focus. The moment you do, you close off but one line of thought – God’s. Let your eyes look straight ahead – not beside you, nor behind you but before you. Having a 2020 vision means having a perfect vision. Don’t lose your 2020 focus
Read also: What is your focus on?
“Show me your ways, Lord, teach me your paths. Guide me in your truth and teach me, for you are
God my Savior, and my hope is in you all day long.” Psalm 25:4-5
I haven’t always been the best person. I haven’t always walked in faith. I haven’t always known grace.
Someone once asked me, “If God were looking at you right now, what do you think He would say?” In that moment, I instantly thought about all of the sins I’ve committed, all of the people I’ve hurt, all of those moments where I couldn’t believe I just did/said that. You know, everything I had done wrong.
In light of current events and the culture in which we are living, it just isn’t the time to sit in our comfortable pews and think we are doing all we can. YES, scripture is clear that in the last days we will see a moral decay BUT it is also clear that we are to stay diligent in His service and work!
Guard Your Heart
The heart of every bank is its vault. Locked metal cubbies line the walls, but can only be accessed with the owner’s identification and a closely guarded key. It makes you wonder, “What could possibly be in there?” Something of value, to be sure. Of course, not everything that is valuable will fit inside a safe deposit box.
How many times have you been on that road trip and the directions are telling you to turn left at the fork in the road but you are thinking that one of your girlfriends told you that going right was quicker? Do you turn left because you actually took the time to print off the directions before you left home and your GPS is telling you to turn left, or do you trust that your friend would know because she has been that route dozens of times? Perhaps you are just going to sit right in the middle of the fork in the road and hope that after all the cars zoom by there will be a big neon sign that reads, “THIS WAY.”
There is an old phrase that became widely used in the 1950’s that had it’s origins as far back as the early 1700’s. The phrase was this, “The proof is in the pudding!” You may even hear this phrase used from time to time today. The meaning behind this phrase is simple; it is stating a basic truth. If you want to know how good something is, (something edible in this case), you must try it or experience it for yourself! Then you will know!
Do you ever feel exhausted from giving all of yourself to a world that still doesn’t see you as enough? Society has a way of telling women who we should be. They say that unless we are doing more than the woman next to us, we are not doing enough.
I wonder, what is enough? Is being enough…
It’s a concept that has flooded our culture and even my own thought processes and practices. And when I indulge in the $6 coffee or the new cardigan from Old Navy, I sometimes whisper under my breath, “treat yourself.” Because every now and then we should, in fact, treat ourselves. But today, as I sit and watch my youngest climb the furniture and terrorize the puppy, I’m struck with how the occasional Starbucks or frivolous spending does very little to actually propagate loving myself.
My life doesn’t look like I thought it would five years ago. In fact, I wear titles that I never dreamed I’d don. Titles that I’d always judged so harshly in others… assuming they’d done something to deserve the scarlet letter pinned to their chest. And that’s how it feels. Like a giant, red “D” is pasted to my forehead, announcing to the world that my marriage failed. That I am no longer a wife but an ex-wife and my children will now have to explain their parentage using the verbiage of “step” and “half.”
And the shame of it all! Shame that has tried to strangle and disqualify and bind and gag the voice that calls me worthy and beloved.
In James 2:13, the Word tells us that mercy triumphs over judgement. A sentiment I found so very hard to understand several years ago. The idea of God as King and Ruler and Master was so easy to fathom. He breathed the stars. His might evident in every ocean wave. I had even heard it said that God is as merciful as He is just. An idea I would have trumpeted for all the world if I hadn’t encountered the heart of His grace and mercy. Because while I’ve known Him for over half of my life, I’m just now getting to know Him. Knowing Him in the capacity of father and daughter is so much different than that of master and servant.
Not a license
Please. Hear my heart. God’s mercy and grace is not a license to sin, as discussed in Romans 6:14 and again in Jude 1:4. But if we ever had the ability to earn our way into heaven, I’m certain the cross and all of its violent glory would not have been necessary. And while some might believe that forgiveness simply excuses your sin and releases you from responsibility, I have discovered that love does not simply shore up my iniquity. It invites me into a relationship where to sin against the one I worship not only breaks His heart but mine as well.
And that’s it. This life-altering truth that shifted the way that I saw myself and in turn, others. After all, the greatest commandment was to love each other as we love ourselves.
The crimson robe of grace and forgiveness
Sometimes self-love looks like letting yourself off the hook. When Jesus confronted the woman found in adultery, this was His response,
“…I certainly do not condemn you. Go, and from now on, be free from a life of sin.” -Romans 8:11
As far as we know, that’s exactly what she did. And that’s what I’m trying to do. While there was no great iniquity or adultery to speak of in my own case, just miscommunication and little foxes, this crimson letter is still one that tries to define me. But mercy says that the only label I wear is that of “His.” And when the Father looks at me, He doesn’t see my failures or my mess ups, but the perfect blood of Jesus. And if that’s good enough for Him, it’s enough for me too.
So if you were looking for permission, here it is. Treat yourself. Buy the shoes. Wear the lipstick. But more importantly, love yourself. Give mercy her triumph over judgment. Go and sin no more. Dance. Shout. And instead of your scarlet letter, whatever that letter may be, wear the crimson robe of grace and forgiveness.
Trust me. It looks good on you.
Read also: The Judge who paid the price