Therefore I run thus: not with uncertainty. Thus I fight: not as one who boxes the air. - 1 Corinthians 9:26
There is a HUGE difference in the kingdoms when it comes to this word "focus". Focus in our world is something lacking, if not completely lost. Today millions will thumb through their cellphones, mindlessly gazing at a post from the NBA or from their favorite celebrity. We will roll out of bed daily, showering and doing the morning routine, then drive to work in a haze. We will punch the clock, drive home, and as we check out in front of the television we will wonder why in the world we are so zapped of life.
You see a lack of focus doesn't just steal your gaze. Really, it steals your momentum. Your drive. Your lively LIFE.
And yet, today millions of us will complete our day the way we started it: checked out.
If I had to guess, Satan loves me BEST when I'm distracted. When I'm unfocused and untethered. When my thoughts wander from "did I RSVP to that thing?" to "where are my favorite pants?" to "what's CNN writing about Trump today?" I'm a sitting duck of inactivity. A void of space that breathes and "shows up" to work or to my family, but nothing more. If I had to guess, I think Satan LOVES me BEST when I show up this way. I'm as unthreatening as someone napping. I'm as effective as an untrained fighter. I'm as far from the works I was created in Christ Jesus to accomplish as I could be.
A lack of focus isn't just a mind gone on a leisure stroll. A lack of focus is death to our purpose. A clever trick to take us dangerously off course.
It's not enough to show up. Jesus wants your full heart and attention for His kingdom.
In 1 Corinthians 9 Paul writes about the race within God's kingdom. He asks a question to the readers: "Don't you know that lots of people run the race, but are you aware not EVERYONE wins a prize?" He's setting up a thesis here. He's saying - it's not enough to just come to the race track. It's not enough to just show up to work. It's not enough to just RUN. If he were to say this in 2016 he would probably say: "Look, see? Everyone is running. To nowhere. For no reason. Everyone is busy being totally and completely unfocused."
Then he says this: "when I run, it's NEVER without aim. When I box, I plan on doing damage with my hits."
It's not ENOUGH to run. You want to run to win at your purpose and at your call.
So how do we run our race for the kingdom with focus?
- Right Your Routine: Scientists and the Bible alike tell us that a life without routine (going to bed on time, waking up on time, having a ritual of reading the Bible, eating good sustaining food,) is an unfocused and chaotic life. Do you feel pointless right now? Out of step? Purposeless? Start with simply trying to establish a rhythm in your day. Work out at the same time. Read a book and don't stop till it's finished. Focus your energy and mind on what God has placed in front of you that day. Make lists. Do what you have to to discipline your day into your plans. Otherwise life will make plans for you.
- Set Your Mind: Find a set time in your morning to set your focus. Turn off outside noise for a few minutes, and whether in front of your Bible or in front of prayer, simply check in with Jesus. Take your thoughts that are wandering captive, and present them to God. Ask the Lord what he would like to accomplish in and through you that day. Let God minister to you about your purpose, how much he loves you, and who you are in Christ. Find a way to do this as a part of your routine: do it in your morning commute, in your morning devo, with your morning cup of coffee, with your morning shower. Even if you aren't "feeling" it, Jesus can do wonders with someone who just shows up to his throne. He has GOOD things for you and for His kingdom EVERYDAY. Set your mind on that truth and watch your day click into focus.
- Remind Yourself of Your Role: Most of us become distracted because we honestly believe our time, talents, life, or investment DOESN'T matter. We can lose focus because we lose heart. The truth is, each disciple of Jesus has immense value for His kingdom. I remind young adults all the time that "only you can do what you can do." If you are an engineer at a firm, only YOU have the brains to work there, the heart to share Jesus with other people and the tenacity to carry out both with excellence. If you are a teacher, only YOU have access to that class and those students day in and day out to impact them in a way that could literally transform their eternities. If you are a stay-at-home daddy, only YOU can speak life over your kids the way you do. Truly, there is no one else. Only you can do what you can do. Remind yourself of how crucial you are, and check in today to focus on what Jesus has.
Today may you run with incredible aim, fixing your eyes on Jesus your author and perfecter of your faith. And may you box as someone who knows they are called, loved, and assigned.
May you feel new life as you gain new focus. In Jesus name. Amen.