One thing I’ve noticed about my brain these days…I can’t seem to focus on anything productive for any useful length of time. Thoughts ping and pong around my head like a silver pinball at the mercy of an arcade champ.
Here are just a few examples of my flighty thought patterns:
- I think I’ll go cook something healthy for dinner. Oh, I wish I cooked dinner more often for my family. Maybe we’d still be together. Dang it, I never fixed Pastor Gary a banana pudding for Pastor Appreciation Month. I never follow through. What’s wrong with me? I think I’ll just eat chips.
- Time to pay bills. Oh, I wish I handled money better back then. Maybe my marriage would still be in tact. Ugh, I shouldn’t have gone grocery shopping without a list. I spent too much as usual. What’s wrong with me? I’ll pay bills later.
- Need to get this blog post about focus done. I’ve been putting it off for a week. If I wasn’t such a slacker, my marriage would still be together. Oh, I got a text. Oh, what’s going on with my FB friends? Hmm, that photo got 78 likes, but so-and-so didn’t like it. Why do I care so much about what she thinks? I’m pathetic. Ooh, it’s my turn on Words with Friends. What in the world? It’s 11:30 p.m., and I only wrote three sentences. What’s wrong with me? Do I need meds?
Yeah, my brain has major pinball dents. As I battle for my mind this year, I need the steady hand of God to take hold of my face and help me see what’s right in front of me and Who’s right there to point me to truth.
In her book, Fervent, Priscilla Shirer says this about focus:
Focus clears away dead space and clutter. It’s what sharpens the images in your photographs, capturing the detail and highlights you want to remember, while pushing less important things to the background or cropping them out altogether. Focus minimizes distractions, lowering your risk of being blindsided. It keeps you from being preoccupied, from overlooking important facts that would’ve been readily obvious if you’d only been paying better attention. Focus protects your goals and dreams from being consumed in small bites, stolen right out from under your nose in twenty-minute segments of compromise.
And focus is the antenna that prayer helps to keep raised and alert, making you keenly aware if somebody’s trying to play you for a fool.
I think we all know who that “somebody” is.
“Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith” (1 Peter 5 8-9 NIV).
My enemy loves to see me distracted and flighty as a do-do bird. He knows when I’m all worked up over conflicts with people and conflicts within my own mind, I won’t be busy doing my Father’s business, and I won’t be living a victorious life.
I’m tired of being distracted by lesser things. I’m tired of listening to the enemy accuse me with my own voice. I’m tired of going to bed bone-weary with very little to show for the day.
I want to see…with laser-like focus…what God has for me today and how He’s fighting the joy stealer, tooth-and-nail, for me to have it. I want to see the deliberate steps He wants me to take that will inch me toward His best for me. And then I want to actually take those steps, one-by-one without doing the pinball cha cha.
It’s time to pray for focus.
I can’t think straight these days. But You say in Your wisdom book that You will make my paths straight if will only trust and obey (Proverbs 3:5-6). Does that include thought pathways? Oh, Lord, please renew my mind, so I can focus on what matters most.
Focus on truth
My struggle is not against what I can see. It’s against an unseen enemy with stubborn resolve to bring me down (Ephesians 6:12).
He can poke and pick at me all he wants. I will never lose the only thing that really matters.
“I am convinced that nothing can ever separate [me] from [Your] love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither [my] fears for today nor [my] worries about tomorrow–not even the powers of hell can separate [me] from [Your] love that is revealed in Christ Jesus [my] Lord” (Romans 8:38-39 NLT).
You are “faithful, and [You] will strengthen and protect [me] from the evil one” (2 Thessalonians 3:3 NIV).
“Though I walk in the midst of trouble, You will revive me; You will stretch forth Your hand against the wrath of my enemies, and Your right hand will save me” (Psalm 138:7 NIV).
Focus on today
“If you, Lord, kept a record of sins, Lord, who could stand? But with you there is forgiveness, so that [I] can, with reverence, serve you” (Psalm 130:3-4 NIV). Oh Lord, I know You must be hurt by all my “kick-me” thoughts as I dwell on my past mistakes. My sins are forgiven, yet I keep on rehashing. Help me fully embrace Your forgiveness and quit my unhealthy habit of looking back at an over-and-done-with past.
Forgive me, Lord, for letting the unknowns of my future distract me from what I know for sure. You are with me right now, and You go before me into a future You see in-full. I’m not a perfect woman, but I’m a God-seeking woman. I am “clothed with strength and dignity, and [I can laugh] without fear of the future” (Proverbs 31:25 NLT).
“By [Your] divine power, [You have] given [me] everything [I] need for living a godly life” (2 Peter 1:3 NLT). All I have is this day, Lord. You don’t promise me another one. Turn Your power loose in me to make the most godly good out of this today.
Focus on the next step
Help me reject the thoughts my enemy constantly plants in my head to shove me off-course. I don’t have to put up with his schemes. “The weapons [I] fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. [I] demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and [I] take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ” (2 Corinthians 10:4-5 NIV).
“May I wholeheartedly follow your decrees, that I may not be put to shame” (Psalm 119:80 NIV).
I hear You say, “Let your eyes look straight ahead; fix your gaze directly before you. Give careful thought to the paths for your feet and be steadfast in all your ways” (Proverbs 4:25-26 NIV). Help me do it, Lord!
“You will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast, because they trust in you” (Isaiah 26:3 NIV). Take my mind, Lord, and steady it. I need that perfect peace. Peace with my past. Peace about the future. Peace for today.
Focus me, Lord.
In the name of Jesus, who never stops thinking of me, I pray, AMEN
Considering this post took me a week and a half to write, I think I need to pray this prayer ’til the truth sticks. Do you struggle with lack of focus? Leave a comment. I’d love to pray for you.