Focus and Be

“One thing I have desired of the Lord, That will I seek: That I may dwell in the house of the Lord All the days of my life, To behold the beauty of the Lord, And to inquire in His temple.”

Psalms 27:4 NKJV

I remember moments as a child when I would sit on the edge of my bed, or curl up against my pillow, my hands gripped tightly to the journal pressed against my chest, eyes closed as I focused on random imaginings.

The world slowed down to that space where I envisioned what could be. I didn’t know what I was becoming—what would unfold in my life—but my thoughts bounced around from one possibility to the other, flexible and focused on what my heart was beginning to desire. Because somehow, even in those early years, I was learning that if I kept eyes on Jesus, what I longed for could maybe one day be found in Him.

I see this similar rhythm in my kids as their core passions begin to rise to the surface. They bounce around activities with energy. Yet as time passes, they begin to single out specific areas of interests: learning how to play the guitar and piano, choreographing dances and fights, drawing on anything they can get their hands on and of course, collecting every little tidbit about dinosaurs.

Even as third culture kids, they still have the room to dream, to breathe, to believe that what they hope for in their hearts they will one day see. And because of this, they orient themselves to anything related to that. They soak up information, their hands are ready to catch and carry what they need to fulfill those interests. But the most beautiful part is when they bound over with their latest idea or find, involving me in the process of their discovery. Their eyes light up with joy when they see the focus of my own on them. It’s fascinating to watch and a relief to see that though they still navigate challenging days or weeks, they have room to focus and be.

That doesn’t feel so easy or simple for me anymore, as I sometimes sit on the end of my bed or stand before the kitchen sink. My hands gripping the edge of whatever is near, eyes closed from sensory overload because I’ve tried to multitask too much. Add to that the worry over my weaknesses, the tasks involved in preparation, or concern over a world that seems to have flipped on its head. The propensity to get dizzy in those moments is real. And fleeting is the memory of how to be…how to focus and breathe. So much so that sometimes the simple steps to take are too blurry to see.

It seems that our hands were not meant to grasp at everything. We flail around trying to attain what we think we need to hold on to. The sneaky voice of comparison can leave us with dissatisfaction over what we’ve been called to steward.  But in those moments of edge-of-bed-breakdowns, Jesus is ever present with his breakthrough. Offering his hand for us to hold on to, setting his face before us, showing us again the place where our eyes should be set.

“And Jesus answered and said to her, “Martha, Martha, you are worried and troubled about many things. But one thing is needed, and Mary has chosen that good part, which will not be taken away from her.””

Luke 10:41-42 NKJV

I think of this often when I read the story of Mary and Martha. How Martha called out her sister because her perspective from her kitchen vantage point was all wrong. All her distractions and the scattered lens of comparison caused her to attempt to pull her sister away from Jesus. Yet, Jesus so tenderly redirected her focus, reminding all of us in only the way he can that in all of our doing, only one thing really mattered.

I want my gaze to be on what matters. On what won’t be lost even when there is loss everywhere else. The one thing that won’t fade even when all other distractions try to avert my eyes away. Because in the center of Christ’s gaze, at the center of his will, is the core of our deepest desires. It is fellowship and communion with Him. And out of that position in Him flow those purposes and passions we were trying to accomplish in our own strength.

We live in shifting seasons, in transitions we can’t control, in trends that try to dominate, in cultures where we sometimes clash and circumstances that seem to crash down around us. Yet…we are invited to pause, breathe Jesus in and give ourselves permission to remember our portion. It is Him. And in that place we can be…and remain. Allowing all that we dream and do to be for the glory of His name.

What are some things that have overwhelmed your focus and left you dizzy? What cares can you cast on Jesus today, making room for you to focus and be?

4 Comments

  1. Jenilee May 4, 2022

    “I want my gaze to be on what matters. On what won’t be lost even when there is loss everywhere else. The one thing that won’t fade even when all other distractions try to avert my eyes away.” Amen

    Love this, Jenny!

    1. Jenny May 4, 2022

      Thank you Jenilee!

  2. Michele May 8, 2022

    Jenny, I’m pretty sure this isn’t the first time your writing has put tears in my eyes. I feel like I am being renewed in this ability to focus the last several weeks and it continues to surprise me. And every reminder that this is good and right, the ‘one thing’, like this touches me in a new way and confirms that I can trust the problems will get solved and the things will get done if I give my time to this focus. During a year of living with family in the US, I really let it go and the consequences were dire in my spiritual and emotional life. Currently, I see some good friends around me very overwhelmed by real problems, and I myself am dealing with some frustrating and distracting issues. After veering off-track for about 24 hours, I went to bed last night determined to let go and return to the focus you so beautifully wrote of. Just reading this and reflecting on it this morning, I realize that the best way (and of course, I don’t mean ONLY way) for me to help my friends right now is to be an example of sitting at Jesus’ feet and dealing with my problems and theirs from a place of rest in Him.
    Thanks for this article!

    1. Jenny May 9, 2022

      Hi Michele! Thank you for sharing so transparently with us. It is a constant reminder for us. Surrendering and trusting Jesus from that place of rest.

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