Consider Your Focus

In today’s world, we have become experts at self-diagnosis.  When I’ve got an ailment I can’t identify, my first response is to turn to Google and search for information.  There’s a wealth of information out there (not all of which is accurate) but it helps me to educate myself on my condition in order to make better decisions. 

But information can have a negative effect, as well.  It can cause my focus to become myopic.  I can be so absorbed with the problem I’m not able (or willing) to consider solutions.  What begins as a small issue to be resolved can turn into an anchor that keeps me in a holding pattern unable to move forward. 

I’ve found myself in these holding patterns all too often.  I can go for days or weeks of trying to work through an interpersonal problem or an emotional “hangnail” (i.e. those little things in life that creep up every so often and cause just enough pain to be annoying).  And each time the only thing that gets me out is a simple shift of focus.  I realize over time that I’ve focused so much on the problem that I miss the One Who is my answer.  (Important to note.  God is not the One that simply provides my answer.  He is my Answer.)

It’s funny when you think about it.  It’s not that I’m ignorant of God or His ability to work.  In fact, the entire time I’m pleading with Him to help.  But my focus is still on the problem… and not the Solution.

Yet when I shift my focus to Who God is… What He promises… and How He works, my problems come into context and they are less daunting in light of my Father. 

Reading through Joshua 3, I’m reminded of how Joshua’s view of God and his problem led him to take part in one of the greatest miracles documented in scripture.  I encourage you to read it yourself.  Take a look at the Problem and Joshua’s response.

Problem:  Joshua was responsible to lead the entire nation of Israel (men, women, children & belongings) across a swollen Jordan river too dangerous to cross. 

Joshua knew that now was the time to cross the river Jordan and finally step into the Promised Land.  Joshua understood the need to move forward but didn’t necessarily understand how that would happen.  He had a choice.  He could focus on the problem:  How to safely get 1,000’s of people across a rushing river too deep to wade through; or he could focus on the One to provide the solution.

Joshua & the Israelites did 3 specific things that led to experiencing an amazing miracle from the Lord.  In this one moment they set an unprecedented example of how to approach any problem in our lives that threatens to lock us into a holding pattern:

  1. Expectation – Joshua expected God to do something big.  “Perform the ceremonies to make yourselves holy because tomorrow the Lord will do miracles among you.” v5
  2. Action – The Israelites actively did what Joshua asked them to do.  “So they broke camp to cross the Jordan River…” v14.  They didn’t break camp to cross AFTER the river parted and the solution was obvious.  They prepared to move BEFORE the solution was apparent to them.  The Israelites were focused on God and not the problem.  The problem would keep them in a holding pattern… sitting in tents waiting for the waters to recede.  But their expectation was on the One that is greater than a raging river.  And they exercise this expectation through action. 
  3. 3.      Celebrate – After God did what only He could do… part the waters… Joshua and the Israelites celebrated.  They kept their focus on the Lord by giving Him the glory and the honor. 

From this scripture I am reminded that when I choose to focus on the problem, my problem only magnifies.  But when I choose to focus on the Father, my Father is magnified.  It may not eliminate my problem immediately… just puts it in right perspective.