Have you ever stopped your everyday life to focus?
Have you ever taken some time before an event just to think about what you are going to experience? Whether it is a Mumford and Sons concert or an orchestra concert, I have caught myself trying to calibrate what I am about to witness.
Whether you identify or not, I think it is safe to say that there are moments in life when you consciously have to prepare yourself to savour a moment. You want to make sure that you are not distracted by the cell phone bill you need to pay later, or how sunburnt you may get (the is real for me in that department). And as you focus, your senses become heightened. Your eyes seem to see more. Your ears are on high alert and the occasional goose bumps rush over your skin. And in the end you leave either satisfied or wanting more.
Another great example is Christmas. The wrapped presents slowly building under the tree and the smells of family meal cooking in the oven wafting through the house all build to a sense of clarity – where the doors of anticipation and preparation swing open to an experience worth remembering. As a child, I would wait all night, unable to sleep. So excited I could burst, so focused on what I was about to receive that I had an unusual amount of energy that kept me going all through Christmas Eve and Christmas day.
You could experience this kind of clarity on the first day of your job: when adrenaline is pumping high as you step into an environment that will become your new normal. You focus on remembering names and the faces they belong to, you take note of where you parked your car and how the traffic was en route to the office. You are still not quite sure if you want to be there and there is a lot of unknown factors that keep you highly aware of the dynamics within the business.
Have you ever paused before a World Cup final when your nation is playing? Somehow, you think you can will your team into victory. There is that shortness of breath – the tension is tangible. Every play that is made, every call the referee makes, and every score change becomes of paramount importance. In moments like these the kitchen could be on fire and you wouldn’t tear yourself away. It is like you are every player on the field, as well as the coach and the ref. You’re sitting on the edge of your seat, waiting for the score to go in your favour.
There are so many instances that can describe this kind of focus. It’s an inherent practice that defines our lives. Without it, there would be nothing by which to measure the good in our lifetime. The thing is, I believe this clarity and expectation that heightens our senses and wells within us was meant for more than just happy memories. I believe it is an instinct that draws us towards God.
For many, the word “faith” means worldview or perspective. But true faith is belief that compels you to grow and change and forge ahead. It is an expectation for the goodness awaiting us beyond the horizon and our lifeline when struggle tries to take us out. Those quiet moments of focus – of intentionally quietened thought – are not reserved for special occasions or sports games. They are actually essential moments that can consistently improve your faith in God.
Every time you want to have a conversation with God, it is an event. The creator of the universe interacting with a mere human; wanting to be involved in the mundane details of your life, is definitely an event. If standing in a crowd with thousands to see small figures play a few songs results in this type of focus, how much more should it apply to the one-on-one interaction with the person who invented everything about your life? The thing about this kind of focus, however, is that you will leave both satisfied but also desperately hungry for more.
Just like Christmas, God has set up moments where you can feel loved and appreciated. He wants to bless you with unexpected gifts and nourish you with the finest of sustenance. What focus does to our faith is it helps prepare us for these glorious moments. Imagine walking in on Christmas in April and receiving an unwrapped gift. The experience would probably be underwhelming, if not unsettling! But building the anticipation for God’s presence and goodness allows us to mark out and remember it. It also helps us stay thankful when daily life has taken away the novelty of the moment.
Just like your first day at work, this heightened awareness can teach you about how God thinks, works and outworks things. You remain conscious of the fact that your way of living and thinking is not how God operates. We need to fit into his culture, and not the other way round. This kind of focus in our faith lives helps us understand that when God has the big picture, the possibilities are endless.
Just like a final sports game, focusing on God causes the “distractions” to fade away. God wants you completely engrossed in his plan. He wants you to celebrate life with him. He wants you involved in how people see Him. He wants you to participate, not just observe.
If you are reading this and have never tried to engage with God – to take time out to just wait for Him to communicate to you – I would encourage you to give it a try. If you would like to know more about who God is, click on the link below.