If you have ever lost focus, you know how devastating this can be. What tends to give us the greatest heartache in loss of focus is not always the "evident" stuff, but the things which happen just beneath the surface of our lives. We get a little distracted, even find ourselves doing things we know better than to do, but what damages us the most is the "underneath" stuff. The loss of focus affects our peace. Peace disturbed leads to all kinds of issues which magnify the sense of "restlessness" and "fear" we might just be experiencing by our loss of focus. If you have ever put up a good front for someone, you probably know just how hard it was to "maintain the appearance" of peacefulness and focus, but be experiencing the deep inner turmoil of restlessness, fear, anxiety and a total lack of concentration. It gets hard to deal with what life sends our way when this happens - so learning to "refocus" is quite necessary.
You, Lord, give true peace to those who depend on you, because they trust you. So, trust the Lord always, because he is our Rock forever. (Isaiah 26:3-4 NCV)
Some of us think "depending" on God is like hedging a bet - we "go along" with him as long as it makes sense, but we often leave a little room for a quick retreat just in case this "dependence" thing isn't working out! As long as we are leaving room for an "out" in life, we have a lack of true peace. True peace comes in the PERSON of Christ - focus determines how much of Christ we allow to affect our inner peace. When our eyes are on Christ and not the circumstances, we find we are given something called "true peace". In other words, true rest. Peace is the opposite of restlessness. Last night I had a very restless night. Maybe it was because I ate a late supper because of a late meeting at work, or perhaps it was the inability to really shut down my mind to the things I was mulling over from the meeting. Either way, the peaceful rest I had hoped for did not come. I laid awake for several hours in an already shortened night's sleep. Tossing and turning, I attempted to ease myself back to sleep with position changes, pillows propping this or that, a little essence of lavender, and a little deep breathing.
What we sometimes do when we find our peace disturbed is look to change the circumstances instead of refocusing our attention! What had me disturbed was not the comfort of the bed, the welcome of the fluffy pillow, or the constant whir of the fan - it was the digesting of my food and the mulling over of thoughts best left for another time! We often find ourselves distracted by the circumstances and the potential of changing them in order to improve our chances at finding peace. What we'd do well to remember is the one who controls the outcomes of the circumstances when we finally rest in him! What we give into in our thoughts and attention will soon "GROW" in magnitude - taking on a significance all its own. If we give our thoughts and attention to Christ, imagine what "significance" he has the capability of taking on in the midst of our overwhelming circumstances!
A word of caution here - decisions made when we are less than focused are usually not going to turn out well. The impact of peace in the realm of making decisions is often the overriding guide as to us making those decisions, is it not? When we feel a sense of settled peace about the decision it is much easier to make the first step. Disturbed peace often holds us back from making the commitment - we just linger a little longer in the place of indecision. What God asks of us is to come to a place where we "count on" him, his plan for our lives, and his ability to accomplish this plan. This results in great peace. When we "count on" some other thing - hedging our bet so to speak - we are really not going to know this peace.
Living in Arizona, I have the joy of smelling all those citrus blossoms in spring which will result in the harvest of juicy oranges, grapefruits, lemons, and limes in the winter months. It doesn't surprise me to see the white blossoms and gathering bees. The sweet scents promise something yet unseen - sweet fruit. Then the heat of summer is quickly upon us. What looks like a very tough and taxing season "stresses" these trees a little. The intensity of the heat actually "scorches" the leaves a little, but amazingly, the fruit continues to grow! It doesn't ripen in the heat of summer as some other fruits might, but it does a whole lot of growing in the midst of what looks like the most unlikely time and conditions for growth. As autumn comes, the temperatures begin to cool (or at least they do by our standards). The gentle transition from intense heat to tempered warmth and then cooler times is what actually "turns" the fruit. It begins to taken on its tremendous sweetness during this "cooling off" season. As the fruit begins to "rest" on the branches, not taxed so much by the intensity of the summer season, the fruit is free to take on what it needs to ripen and mature.
I wonder what would happen if we stopped seeing seasons of "intensity" as something we'd like to avoid? Maybe we'd come to realize the protection of the "tree" in helping us get through with fruit well-underway toward its ultimate development. In those moments of intensity, the tree focuses on the fruit - ensuring the fruit gets enough nutrients to keep it growing. I think the fruit might just be focused on the tree - knowing it is the life-giving connection to the tree which will help it weather the intensity of the heat. Maybe another word for focus is really connection. Peace would then be related to connection. If our peace is disturbed in the intensity of the season we are in, maybe we'd do well to examine our connection. Just sayin!