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Sunday, September 28, 2014

Choosing the right focus

Only - a small word, but rich in meaning.  It carries the idea that there will be no other worthy of out attention, or that something is exclusively for our use and enjoyment.  I like to think of it as single in distinction or superiority with nothing else being able to compare to it.  When I get the "only" great buy at the store, I feel like I have scored big time.  It is like I have won the jackpot!  When I gain the attention of one who I desire to spend time with, I feel like I also have scored big time!  I wonder if God feels that way about us?  When he gets our attention and holds it just long enough for us to connect with him, he is probably saying something like, "I only have you in my thoughts right now".  In essence, when we make God our only focus in life, we are saying we only have room for him in our lives.  The moment we make this our claim in life - living it out in our daily actions - we cross over from living vague and meaningless lives into the vastness of his goodness and grace.

Only God can save me, and I calmly wait for him. God alone is the mighty rock that keeps me safe and the fortress where I am secure. (Psalm 62:1-2 CEV)

The psalmist David often took time to let God know exactly where he was "at" in his life experiences.  He wanted God to understand his heart and I think he probably desired to understand God's as much.  I think we all want God to understand our hearts, because our actions often speak of other intentions than what is deep within our hearts, right?  It is like we set out minds toward one goal, then realize we have pursued another.  David finds himself hotly pursued by the armies of Saul - out to destroy his life and ensure David is not alive to assume the throne after Saul's death.  Saul knows David has been chosen by God, but this does not stop his pursuit of David.  If you don't know the story of David's early life, let me give you a little background.  

He was a teenager, out in the fields taking care of his father's sheep.  He lived with the sheep most of the time, because that is what shepherds do.  They have to keep constant watch over them so no wild critter sneaks in and nabs them in the night.  In essence, he was involved in a pretty "lowly" occupation.  He wasn't learned in the schools of theology, or from a particularly wealthy family who may have gained societies attention when looking for their next king.  In fact, Israel had asked for Saul as their king and it wasn't working out as well as they'd hoped.  As David is about his business of tending sheep, God sends a prophet to anoint the next King of Israel - David himself.  A long line of brothers older and more experienced than David were looked over by the prophet when at last he asks if there are any other sons.  Jesse, David's dad, says there is but one more, but he is in the fields tending the sheep.

David is anointed king that day, but he will not assume the throne for quite some time, as Saul is still enthroned.  Unless the king was killed in battle, or died of natural causes, he would wait until Saul was no longer on the throne. In the meantime, David ministers for a while in the courts of Saul - playing his musical instruments.  David was actually anointed three times - initially by the prophet, once when he assumed the throne at around age 33 when he became King of Judah and again at about age 40 when he became King of Israel.  In between the time of his first anointing and his actually ascension to the throne, he is hotly pursued by Saul's armies - in an attempt to kill him.  So, from shepherding sheep to the throne of Israel, he spends a lot of time on the run and learning military wisdom.  

I don't believe anything happens by accident - God has a purpose in all we go through in life.  I wonder if David would have been as prepared to take over as King of Israel if he hadn't had all those years learning military tactics?  Perhaps not.  In those "in between" moments, David has one consistent "tactic" for his own life - God is his one and only.  He makes God the center of his attention and he keeps him there.  In doing so, he trusts in God's plan even though he doesn't see the evidence of it immediately unfolding in his life.  This is often the breaking point for us, isn't it?  The time "in between" the promise and the evidence of that promise worked out in our lives.  What happens in those periods of time makes all the difference, though.  For it is in these moments we find exactly where our attention is focused.

David's attention - clearly and definitely on God alone.  He awaits God's intervention time and time again - despite the frequency of attacks, the ease at which he could escape it all, or the desire to assume his right of passage unto the throne.  He will wait - and in so doing, he makes sure God remains the ONLY focus in his waiting.  There is a lesson there for all of us - in the choice of focus.  Choosing the right focus will help us await the right timing, endure the multiple trials which might come along the way, and be content with the present blessings we enjoy.  Just sayin!