Focus Determines Direction

When we first started house-hunting in eastern TN, I observed that there were few totally flat lots here in the foothills of the Smoky Mountains. Some houses had driveways so steep, I knew I could never get up and down them on my own.

The hilly land had an effect on roads as well. Many streets had a significant drop-off on one side—with no guard rails. Most were not steep enough to be fatal if one ran off the road. But many would cause injuries or bang up a car pretty well. Some roads were pretty scary even with guard rails.

Naturally, I tried to watch the edge of the road in order to stay in my lane. But when I did, I found myself veering in the direction I was looking.

Sometimes I’d be so concerned about getting too close to the edge, I’d overcompensate and drift in the oncoming lane.

Driving some roads here was nerve-wracking for me unless I disciplined myself to watch the road ahead.

It’s natural that the rest of our body will be drawn to what our eyes are focused on.

It’s natural, too, that our hearts will be drawn toward what our thoughts focus on.

When we focus on our fears, we remain stuck in them.

When we focus on our weaknesses, we remain discouraged and defeated.

When we focus on a sin we’re trying to overcome, that’s all we can think about.

When we fill our thoughts with someone who hurt us, we remain wounded.

How do we move forward?

But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord (II Corinthians 3:18).

How do we behold Him?

In His Word:

And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he interpreted to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning himself. (Luke 24:27).

You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is they that bear witness about me (John 5:39).

In His house:

O God, you are my God; earnestly I seek you; my soul thirsts for you; my flesh faints for you, as in a dry and weary land where there is no water. So I have looked upon you in the sanctuary, beholding your power and glory (Psalm 63:1-2).

One thing have I asked of the LORD, that will I seek after: that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, to gaze upon the beauty of the LORD and to inquire in his temple (Psalm 27:4).

In repentance:

If my people who are called by my name humble themselves, and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land (2 Chronicles 7:14).

In prayer:

The Lord is near to all who call on him, to all who call on him in truth (Psalm 145:18).

I sought the LORD, and he answered me, and delivered me from all my fears. They looked unto him, and were lightened: and their faces shall never be confounded. This poor man cried, and the LORD heard him, and saved him out of all his troubles. (Psalm 34:4-6).

When we’re driving, we have to glance around us and in our rear-view mirror sometimes. But to get where we’re going safely, our sustained focus needs to be on the road ahead.

In life, we can’t spend every moment in prayer or Bible reading. We have God-given responsibilities to families, communities, workplaces, dwellings. But a sustained focus on Him in His Word and prayer will help keep our sets set on Him in everyday life. Robert Murray McCheyne said, “For every look at yourself, take ten looks at Christ. He is altogether lovely. Such infinite majesty, and yet such meekness and grace, and all for sinners, even the chief!”

I have set the Lord always before me; because he is at my right hand, I shall not be shaken. Therefore my heart is glad, and my whole being rejoices; my flesh also dwells secure. . . .You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore (Psalm 16:8, 9, 11).

Looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God (Hebrews 12:2).

The Lord bless you and keep you;
the Lord make his face to shine upon you and be gracious to you;
the Lord lift up his countenance upon you and give you peace (Numbers 6:24-26).

May we always respond like David when he said, “You have said, ‘Seek my face.’ My heart says to you, ‘Your face, Lord, do I seek'” (Psalm 27:8). We have His promise, “You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart” (Jeremiah 29:13).

(Revised from the archives)

(I often link up with some of these bloggers.)

26 thoughts on “Focus Determines Direction

  1. Love this, Bar6, particularly after my recent drive up Pike’s Peak! Also, having just read Philip Yancey ‘s autobiography about his fundamentalist roots, I bsee your point about the danger of an inadequate focus.

  2. Barbara, our focus does determine our path, our thoughts, our emotions. Love the quote about looking to God 10 times for everyone one time we look to ourselves. Once again, focusing on Him changes and solves our problems.

  3. A simple rule we learn for driving (also for staying in a lane for swimming or running!) applies to our spiritual journey as well. Whatever we focus on is what we aim for. Let’s focus on God – and on the prize set before us!

  4. “To get where we’re going safely, our sustained focus needs to be on the road ahead.” Wisdom for the road and for life. May my sustained focus remain on the Lord for He alone knows what lies ahead.

  5. Wonderful reminder. I remember struggling with how to focus my thoughts in college. Whenever unwelcome thoughts popped into my mind, I would repeat Phil. 4:8 (“whatever is true … think on these things”). It was helpful to focus on that!

  6. Barbara, there’s so much truth in your words! One thing God has shown me time and again this year is that my focus needs to be on Him and Him alone. It’s a discipline to look where we want to go and not at all the dangers and hard situations around us. The verses you share are spot on!

  7. I agree with Jeanne! It takes disciplining our mind and thoughts on the hope found in Him, rather than on our circumstances. And when on those steep, narrow roads, rest in His peace (as panic tends to take us off route)! Great post!

  8. Your post speaks nicely to my One Word for 2021 – “seek.” I need reminding every little bit to keep my focus on Him. He is the only thing worth dwelling on.

    Also, thank for sharing the McCheyne quote, “For every look at yourself, take ten looks at Christ.” I’d heard that before but didn’t remember who said it. It’s awesome!

  9. I needed these words today. It’s easy to lose focus and fall over the edge of the cliff, you know? Thanks for these reminders today, sweet friend…

  10. Such an encouraging post, Barbara. I don’t drive on steep roads much, but the principle also applies to running—if I’m busy looking at the ground, I’m more likely to go slower and also to fall. Eyes up and on the path ahead makes the whole thing work better. I haven’t been sleeping well lately, and I’m working on turning my thoughts to prayer instead of worrisome matters. The change in focus definitely helps.

  11. Sound wisdom, Barbara, “I disciplined myself to watch the road ahead…our body will be drawn to what our eyes are focused on…our hearts will be drawn toward what our thoughts focus on…a sustained focus on Him.”

  12. Pingback: September Reflections | Stray Thoughts

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