Off and on I struggle with focus to the point that I realize it is an issue I must deal with. I think here of focus as in faith, and what my mind is fixed on. And then from that, my heart, and all I am, as much as possible, by the Spirit and the Word in the Community of Jesus.
I am reminded of what I heard Richard Wurmbrand say years ago. Something like: "You will regret bitterly the weaknesses you have, that you encounter in your ministry." (a paraphrase, keeping the thought I remember). I often am going along fine. But before preaching or when doing a "ministry" activity, I am sorely tempted to focus on something that is a fear to me. That in reality is probably a lie, in and of itself. But in so doing, I find myself losing my focus on the Lord and lose out on the simplicity of the walk with him.
This is like Peter on the water. First he comes (evidently, especially knowing him from the gospels) unhesitatingly at Jesus' bidding, toward Jesus on the water! But then he is tempted to consider "reality". In so doing he loses his focus of faith. No longer is he looking at Jesus, but instead at the waves, whipped up by the wind on the water. Peter is sinking! Of course, in answer to his cry the Lord's hand is there to save him.
I remember in the past going up on a rope's course. It was very high (can't remember just how high, maybe 30 feet), especially for me, as I have a fear of heights. Just to get to the top for me was good. But being there, I was terrified. In fear I couldn't even go through the first rope without falling (of course one is kept safe and simply ends up hanging). And when I got to the other end, all I wanted to do was immediately climb down, which I did.
The next year I determined to do better. I was not going to look down, as I had my first time. I expressed my determination to do well, and not to be afraid this time, at which someone laughed (understandably so, given my other time on it).
I climbed to the top. Never once looked down. Did the entire ropes course. And never once fell! Though some of it was tricky. In all of that, I never lost focus. If I had slipped, that would have been a test of whether or not I would keep focus on what I had to do next. Though certainly exhilerating, and intense, I had avoided the paralyzing fear that comes with the loss of proper focus.
And so it is in our life in God. When danger comes our way, and seems to be in our face, we need to keep the faith. Fixing our eyes, as the writer of Hebrews tells us, on Jesus. Both in the personal-relational way. And in the way of the disciple, learning from our Mentor. From his life as recorded for us in the gospels. And from the Spirit teaching us. And all of this both in our aloneness, and especially in the community of Jesus.
How do we apply this focus? This is where we need to be in Scripture. There are various things we'll have to do. Including, perhaps, like Paul, glorying in our own weakness, because of "the thorn in the flesh, a messenger of Satan" that may trouble us. Because we know God's strength is made perfect in our weakness. Indeed, a most hard lesson to learn. Simply learning to keep our eyes, in faith on the faithful One: Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
How about you? What have you learned about the focus of faith? What keeps you on track? Or helps you get back on track?