Wednesday, April 18, 2012

In the periphery...

Have you ever come into a situation where you "think" someone is talking about you, so when you are asked your opinion based on just a little bit of knowledge of the gist of the conversation, you begin to launch into some answer which makes you look great (at least in your eyes!)?  Then, as quickly as you began, you find yourself caught off-guard when you realize they weren't even speaking of you, but another!  You are mortified to find out you have "built up" or "bragged on" someone you don't even like!  Haman found himself in just such a spot:

6-9 When Haman entered, the king said, "What would be appropriate for the man the king especially wants to honor?"  Haman thought to himself, "He must be talking about honoring me— who else?" So he answered the king, "For the man the king delights to honor, do this: Bring a royal robe that the king has worn and a horse the king has ridden, one with a royal crown on its head. Then give the robe and the horse to one of the king's most noble princes. Have him robe the man whom the king especially wants to honor; have the prince lead him on horseback through the city square, proclaiming before him, 'This is what is done for the man whom the king especially wants to honor!'"  (Esther 6:6-9 The Message)

It is a pretty ridiculous thing to be so full of ourselves, isn't it?  Whenever we see "us" as the center of the universe, we are headed for a fall!  The universe does not always rotate around "us" - in fact, it rarely does!

Haman wanted Mordecai out of the way - not paraded through the city streets on a horse dressed in regal attire.  He imagined the king could have no other "favorite" than him.  Imagine his surprise when he discovers there are actually other people in this world of importance to the king!  Sometimes I think we approach God in just this way - we imagine "us" as the center of his universe!  In fact, we hope and pray everything will rotate around us!  Sadly, we find we are not in the right place at the center of God's universe!  The real center of the universe is God - not us.

One thing is for sure - whenever my eyes are on me, I don't see you!  The same is true when my eyes are on me - I don't see God!  Regardless of how hard we try, we can only really "behold" one thing at a time.  Sure, there are things in our periphery vision, but they are just "in the periphery".  They are not the object of our focus.  The real truth is God is never content with just being in "the periphery" of our lives.  

I think this is what Jesus had in mind when he told us in was impossible to serve two "gods" - God and mammon.  Either money is in our focus, or God is.  One or the other is really in the periphery - no two things dwell together in equal focus!  Try it.  Put your coffee cup in front of you on a napkin.  Then put your spoon on the napkin.  Take a good hard look at them.  You will either see the cup, the spoon or the napkin - all three are in the "picture" together, but only one is in focus at a time.

What we focus on the most determines our course.  If we focus on the cup, we likely will crave the coffee.  If we focus on the napkin, we will think less of the coffee, and more of the protection it provides to the desk against the tiny drops of moisture which could destroy its finish.  If the spoon is the object of our attention - sparkling in its glittery brilliance - we will not remember the combined sweetness and bitterness of the coffee it stirred just a short while before.

Silly illustration, I know, speaks to the truth - one object is all we can truly keep in focus at a time.  How hard do we have to work to keep the correct focus in life?  Probably pretty hard!  Focus is tough - it is a learned thing.  I know when I learned to shoot a semi-automatic rifle, focus on the target through the tiny aiming device on the end of the rifle was the hardest thing to learn.  Yet, in the end, I became an expert marksman.  So, it is possible to refine our focus!

So...what's in your focus this morning?  What is in the periphery?  Does your focus need to change?  Always remember this:  Your focus determines your destiny!

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