[Adjusting the focus]
Though this may sound–at first–like I’m complaining, this isn’t my intention, and it certainly won’t end on a sour or challenging note. In fact, the morning that I started to write this piece, I felt a twang of inspiration as I woke contemplating where things truly stand, (things aren’t always as they seem), but in order to get to the good stuff I have to lay out the not so good stuff, so this is how the story goes:
Mornings can and have been difficult for me. (If you haven’t been following my story–chronic illness is the reason behind this.) To quickly summarize what I’ve been going through, my more recent struggles have been a combination of failed medication, that first caused anxiety, then depression as the dose was lowered, sending me into withdrawal when I finally had to switch back to my former thyroid medication; the feeling that we were now back at square one again with my health struggles, and last but not least, having to let go of our home based business. Both my husband and I have chronic health issues, which makes navigating life a little tricky some days. I’m still adjusting both physically and mentally to switching medications, and I’m still learning to trust God with what’s next. I really have a problem with the unknown.
In “Amidst the Bulrushes” I wrote that sometimes we have to fight for that peace, because I’ve felt like I’ve had to fight through all of it in order to get back to a place of peace and joy. I’ve never been alone in the battle though. I’m thankful for that. God has thrown me countless lifelines to shift my perspective. In the time I’ve been writing this piece alone, He’s provided me with a lot to chew on, which keeps nudging me along.
Because mornings can be rough, I’ve been contemplating a lot of things, and looking at all of it from different angles. In my own struggles I’d forgotten something: not about seeking God; prayer; study; praise or worship (I’ve been going through those motions), but I’d lost sight of the hope that’s always on the horizon. How could I lose sight of that hope when I’ve been constantly writing about it?
I suppose Inwardly I was still very focused on the battle itself. I was focused more on what’s changed, (or even what hasn’t changed) but as I learn to adjust that focus from the battle to the One who says, “You need only be still. I will fight for you.” (Exodus 14:14), I begin to see that one thing never changes: God’s love for me. I knew that He loved me, but I wasn’t honed in on what this truly means.
A fellow “flying buddy” (with a rather cautious: I’m not saying that this applies to you…) Paraphrased what he’d been reading from a book titled “Zero Victim” by James E. Ward:
“put on lenses that say every day is sunny and bright – even if it’s raining or snowing. Some may claim you’re not being realistic, you’re in a make-believe world…but are you? Maybe you’re flying too low…if you rise above the clouds… every day is sunny and bright. Change your perspective. Refuse to see the clouds, don’t be the victim, rise above it. You control how you view “your world” take off the victim lenses you are looking through.
It’s a fine line between “power of positive thinking” and perspective. As followers we are overcomers and we have been given everything we need to live a Godly life (doesn’t mean it’s always easy)…that’s the perspective thing I need to remind myself of on a regular basis. I can let the world capture my perspective in a second (or quicker) if I’m not careful (aka abiding in Him).”
I may have never viewed myself as being a victim, but these words made me think about what details I have been missing or forgetting. What does God’s love for me really mean? If God’s perfect love casts out fear why do I panic when change or setbacks comes? Why do I lose sight of that hope? I guess I need more “flying lessons”. It’s that hope that fuels our Joy, not circumstance, and it’s trusting God that keeps us in perfect peace.
While watching a movie about Bruce Lee with Andrew, these words caught my ear: “In a fight, a chip on your shoulder is just extra weight.” Translate that to a flying metaphor, and you’ll find that without that extra weight, you can fly higher if your focus is instead on the hope that’s always on the horizon. We have hope in knowing that in Jesus our present circumstances are always only temporary; It’s looking forward, and not backwards that fills us with hope.
I have, on occasion, found myself looking back. Not because I want what’s in the past, but simply because it’s felt like we’re back at square one again, but even now I feel God reminding me that this has never been a challenge for Him. He hasn’t dropped the ball, and He won’t leave us. When I look back, forgetting what the future holds, and who holds it (or worse, I imagine that what’s ahead of us will be even more difficult) I only strengthen my resolve that things look rather bleak; fear rises again, and my hope begins to plummet. However, I know that these feelings aren’t accurate either, so I have to adjust the “coordinates,” straighten up, and fly right (recalculating).
I just read a piece by Max Lucado titled “The Weight of Glory.” To paraphrase what he wrote, he first illustrates–with his words–the image of a pan scale. On one side is stacked all of our burdens, and on the other side, God sets eternity. Though God may not always take away all of those burdens, Max Lucado writes, “Watch what happens as He sets eternity on your scale. Everything changes! The burdens lift. The heavy becomes light when weighed against eternity.”
That’s just it: our present troubles really are only momentary in comparison to eternity. I can’t allow my mind to stay stuck on those hopeless thoughts, I have to unpack that and hand it over to God. It’s not the power of positive thinking that pulls us through, it’s the power of God’s presence that makes the difference. I’m reminded again: “Who do you say I am?” (Matthew 16:15). What is it that I believe about Jesus? Suddenly the view changes as I remember exactly who He is: loving; merciful; counselor; deliverer; provider; teacher; the way; the truth, and the life.
The view becomes stunningly beautiful and hope fills the sky when I remember what Jesus has done; what purpose His sacrifice serves, and all that is yet to come. I also remember where my gaze fell before my storm hit (…more about that in Part 2). What we believe matters, and where our focus lands is key. When we view life in the truest light, and from the right angle, we gain that second wind.
Next —>When I Rise – Part 2
If you’re interested in reading more from this series, all entries can be found here:
And the first entry can be found here: