Finding Focus

Photo by Melody Schake

Why do I inundate myself with apps, constant movement, events, loud music, and nonstop conversation? For the past couple of months I have felt this way, completely unfocused and exhausted in trying to keep up with everything around me. It is not just balancing my to-do list, weird work schedule, marriage, and social life. It is the other influences that I allow into my life. They have a purpose and positive message, but at times they can be a distraction in my walk with the Lord.

The truth is that I love to be inspired. I want to read all the best sellers so I have new material to discuss with others. Music of all genres pour through my ears almost all of the time. I have also recently discovered podcasts, and persistently crave all my favs; Annie F. Downs, Shauna Niequist, and Stephanie Gwenn. Not only do I like to read the bible, but I like to have a devotional going on the side. This is all well and good and great for my creative stream, but this also generates so much noise that often pulls me away from the rawness of God’s word. I like to move and amuse my mind with the ideas of others, when really the only one I need to focus on is the Father.

The word of God does not need to be translated into a mini-series, t-shirt, or textbook. I have a tendency to run to these sources speaking of God’s message, and neglect rarity the bible’s present genuineness. The unfiltered words of the Lord stand-alone and I never want to take the freshness of its message for granted.

As I stated earlier, this calling to draw closer to Jesus began a few months ago and since I have felt God asking me to release my social media presence for a short time. This is such a small sacrifice, if anyone even dares to call it that, but this decision is intentional, and honestly, I am completely failing at it. For someone who is supposed to be off the grid, I have already made one unintended post and will randomly, through other links online, slink my back to these unnecessary apps. Maybe this is what God had intended for me to do, maybe not. However, what I do know is that is that He has pressed so many needs for prayer upon my heart and spoken into my spirit that I need to be still and undistracted in His presence.

Though it has been less than a week of this fast, He is already revealing things to me. The first day He told me to stop thinking about what to say and just listen to what He was saying. Just the other night Chris and I went on a long walk with Lu and then came home and ate grain-free pancakes. My heart was filled with happiness with these simple joys and I felt the Lord rewarding me with spoonful of His kindness.

He also drew me to the book of Ezra, which is a true story I have always seemed to overlook. After reading it I found myself completely floored by this man who had “the hand of the Lord upon Him”. His life was flooded with so many distractions, yet he was strongly attentive to his Heavenly Father. We first learn about Ezra in the bible when he was called on by King Artaxerxes to inquire about the events occurring in Jerusalem and Judah. On this journey Ezra was instructed to take deliver 7,500 pounds of silver as an offering to the Lord, along 550 gallons of wine, 500 bushels of wheat, and an unlimited amount of salt. On top of this, those accompanying Ezra slowly began to stray from their faith and intermarried with women they met along the way. This was disheartening to the Lord for this journey was meant to be solely for His purpose. Ezra also made this trip without any additional security from the King. Thieves and violent mongrels were known to comb the roads and often ambush weary travels. Traveling without a guard of any sort, in Ezra’s situation, was completely out of the norm. Ezra was constantly moving and encountered so many distractions during this yearlong journey to Jerusalem, but he never lost his focus. He remained in the stillness of the Lord’s presence.

His words are recorded in Ezra 7:28 “I felt encouraged because the gracious hand of the Lord my God was on me”. NLT

I feel like this verse could be a quote used for the headlining story of a local Gazette. In a way that is so authentic in itself, it proves that God has a thing for using simple, ordinary people who are fixated on Him to do amazing things.

“We will follow the advice given by you and by the others who respect the commands of our God. Let it be done according to the Law of God. Get up, for it is your duty to tell us how to proceed in setting things right. We are behind you, so be strong and take action.” –Ezra 10:3-4

I want to be used by God just as Ezra was. I desire to be still and focus, but at the same time proceeding in all the right things God has planned for me. I do not want to fill my life with useless distractions and always feel empty. I just want Jesus.

“Christ is all that matters, and he lives in all of us.” –Colossians 3:11

As I am writing on my little laptop, I am looking out my window and notice that it has started to rain. The peaceful showers feel like they are replenishing my soul. In this very moment I checked the title of the song playing in my Jason Upton shuffle on Spotify, it is called “Be Still (Live)”. Can God be any clearer in His message to me?

Spend no more of your time reading my words. Shut down your lit screen and dust off the best-selling book of all time hidden behind your stack of trending devotionals. Read his word, it is real, and needs no introduction. Focus on His presence as His spirit stills your heart and remember just how much he intimately loves you.

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