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Keeping The Focus

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The past is gone, frozen in time and cannot be changed. Yet we spend much time preoccupied with regretful thoughts. I could have, should have, or would have becomes our mantra as we replay the vivid memories of failure. Brooding over our past failures will blur our vision for the future. Paul had some skeletons in his closet; nevertheless, he insisted upon having clear vision: “Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 3:1314).

By Gary D. Erickson

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The eight-millimeter movie camera was a new innovation when I was a child. My mom and dad purchased one of those modern marvels, and it became a family ritual to make home movies at every family gathering. My mother appointed herself the official photographer and was as aggressive as the paparazzi. At impromptu moments she would interrupt the visiting with a picture-taking session by lighting up four bright 600-watt bulbs. The blinding hot lights would invoke moans of disapproval and send people scurrying about, hiding their faces to avoid another rude intrusion into their holiday fun and capturing forever their physical imperfections. After so many years, I am glad for my mother’s dogged pursuit of our family heritage.

Before she became skillful at her new hobby, many of the home movies were annoying to watch jerky camera, whiteouts, double exposures, and low lighting. One of the major problems was poor focus. When the camera was not focused properly, everything was fuzzy and blurred. She learned quickly that getting the focus right was an important function for producing good home movies. Life must have focus. If we lose our focus in life, things can become like those fuzzy home movies filled with ambiguities and stymied pursuits.

Life has a way of distracting us from our goals and leading us into unplanned detours. Keeping the focus is a constant vigil. Every individual has been given a mission by the Lord to use his or her talents and abilities for His kingdom (Ecclesiastes 9:11; I Corinthians 12:28; Romans 12:1-8; Ephesians 4:11).

Through prayer and self-evaluation we should all strive to form a vision of what God wants with us. George Barna, in his book, The Power of Vision, defines vision as “foresight with insight based on hindsight.” He also offered a more formal definition: “A clear mental image of a preferable future imparted by God to His chosen servants and is based upon an accurate understanding of God, self and circumstances.” As we pursue our vision, it must stay focused. A fuzzy perspective is not vision. A multitude of things can distract us from our vision, will blur our focus, and cause us to be deterred from our goals. Trying to do too many things to perfection will cause us to achieve at nothing. The following distractions may challenge us.

  1. Fear

Michael Jordan, who some think is the best basketball player of all time, evaluated his success in these words: “I’ve missed more than 9,000 shots in my career. I’ve lost almost 300 games. Twenty-six times I’ve been trusted to take the game-winning shot and missed. I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed.” The fear of failure can be overcome by realizing that sometimes we will fail. But, it is not the end. We can always try again. We can overcome the fear of being misunderstood by accepting the fact that from time to time we will be.

Nevertheless, we will prove our integrity in the long run. We can overcome criticism by realizing our goals are more important than the critic’s opinion of us. We have a wonderful promise that God will help us overcome fear: “So that we may boldly say, The Lord is my helper, and I will not fear what man shall do unto me” (Hebrews 13:6). Paul gave us an excellent promise: “For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind” (II Timothy 1:7).

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