Simple Focus

Hi, there!  Glad you’re back.  Pull up a seat, take a load off, grab that favorite tea or coffee, and let’s consider together.

It’s so easy anymore to get so busy and so scattered, even in our own personal ministry.  The church needs all of us, but I’ve heard it said that 20% of the people do 80% of the work.  I remember one church choir of about 24 people only had 2 (yes, two) who weren’t in at least one other ministry in the church.  One family was involved in over a half-dozen!

I sometimes think of Martha of Bethany – so concerned with so many things that seemed necessary if she would serve her Lord to the best of her ability.  I can imagine planning menus, shopping, cleaning, chopping, cooking, baking, serving the meal, keeping the platters full and the beverages going and…  Whew!  I’m hot and sweaty just thinking about it all!  And then there was Mary.  I’m sure she helped with the many different preparations.  But when the Lord was present, her focus shifted.  The distractions of all the preparations and possibilities faded into the background as she gazed on Him, as she sat quietly at His feet, loving Him with a single devotion.  He spoke; she listened.  She heard what He wanted her to do.  She heard what He called ‘the good part’ for her.

At one point,  I was going to pray, write, teach, sing, lead worship, and also do PR and handle a lot of administrative stuff for a local ministry.  But things didn’t unfold quite as I’d expected; quite frankly, I was confused.  So many options.  Everything from volunteering one afternoon per week, all the way to quitting my job and taking a full-time live in position or even returning to school.  It looked like a wagon wheel of ministry opportunities.  I thought I’d heard the Lord tell me He was going to whittle it down to one spoke of that wheel for me, but so far I was clueless.  During that same season, I had a young friend who was about to leave for her novitiate at a convent clear across the country from her home.  She was concerned about being a good representative of the Church, of being selfless, of staying fervent, of keeping her zeal to save souls.  In my reply to her, the Lord gave me some wonderful advice for myself, too.  I’d like to share it here with you:

I know you’ll be representing the Church in your vocation, but if you focus on representing Christ, the Church will take care of itself. I will pray that you remain ever more fervent in faith, steadfast in hope and overflowing with His love.  When you concentrate on His love for others, it’s simpler to be selfless; walking that out will save souls.  Simplify, simplify, simplify.  Focus on the One Who is calling you, let Him fill you in all things with Himself.  The more you fall in love with Him, the more obedient you will be, and the more effective your ministry.  It’s most  important that you focus solely on Him, and not on your own performance, your own obedience, your own example to set, etc.  Focus on Him.  Don’t look to the left at Sister so-and-so who seems to have it all together.  Don’t look to the right at the confessional, or down  inside yourself, thinking you missed something.  Don’t look back at the things you miss, or sins of your past (for any serious length of time, don’t dwell there).  Don’t look ahead into the future.  Look up at Him.  You become what you focus on.  Focus on Him.

So, what do you think?  Are there places in your life where you can simplify and focus? I know there certainly are in mine!  So often I feel like I’m in a whirlwind of activity.  This past week has been no exception.  I feel almost too distracted to really pray.  That’s my cue – to get alone with the Lord, calm myself in His presence, and just focus on listening to Him.  Read a few verses.  Pray a rosary.  Focus on Him.  I know once I do that, the peace will return.  The distractions will diminish.

If the distractions in your life are too big to just ignore, or if you have things you need to deal with but don’t know how, follow my usual encouragement.  Find a pastor or priest and have a sit down.  It’s always good to draw on someone else’s wisdom.  We never have to deal with things alone.

If you just have too much to do and not enough time, defy your schedule and take a few minutes and simply sit at His feet.  That simple focus is where true life is!

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