Force? or Focus?
One of the greatest enjoyments of this season of life is grandchildren. Recently Ethel and I were recipients of coloring pages that were colored by two of our grandchildren. They are on display in our house - on a refrigerator door and in our bedroom. These pages have helped me focus on thanksgiving, on gratitude.
Recently in sitting together with someone listening to God together, two words surfaced from our time of listening: force or focus. We heard these two words as we were listening to what God was saying about living gratefully and how gratitude is part of the healing journey of heart wounds. We considered these phrases -
A grateful heart is a heart that is on the healing journey.
Gratitude is a way that God heals heart wounds.
An ungrateful heart is one that is stuck on the healing journey.
I’m still inviting God’s Spirit to speak through these three phrases. Even as I’m writing these words I am aware of the tension between force and focus. In the background Ethel is listening to Nehemiah. Usually I am able to “tune out” words in the background and still keep thinking thoughts on a totally different theme. But this morning, I struggled, I struggled to focus, I felt like I was forcing myself to think these thoughts on gratitude. So I moved upstairs so that I could focus on thoughts of gratitude. But when I got upstairs, I discovered my chromebook did not connect to our house wifi. Uggh!!! Really, God!! And that moment it dawned on me what God was showing me, and affirming the importance of the choice of focus. I’m back downstairs again. (Nehemiah chapter 9 is now being read. :) )
In some ways, force and focus are related, in a venn diagram there is some overlap with these two words. But there is a difference, especially on the heart level. I am still wondering how these two words overlap and how they are different.
Focus is not denying the reality of the pain or the wounds of our heart or the circumstances that have caused the heart pain. Focus is to allow the gratitude within one’s heart to see the circumstances that cause the pain from God’s perspective. As we focus, we remember who God is and God’s good gifts.
In Matthew 7:9-11, we find these words of Jesus that help us remember who God is:
“What would you do if your son asks for bread? Which of you would give him a stone? Or if your son asks for a fish, would you give him a snake? Even though you are bad, you know how to give good gifts to your children. So surely your heavenly Father will give good things to those who ask him. Who is God? God is the one who has the ability to give good things.
James, the brother of Jesus in his letter reaffirms this in James 1:17 Every good action and every perfect gift is from God. These good gifts come down from the Creator of the sun, moon, and stars. God does not change like their shifting shadows. God has the ability to give the “perfect” gift, Always!
Focus is a choice to listen to God’s good gifts, God’s blessings. As part of the healing journey that we are all on, God invites us to focus the eyes of our heart on the “perfect” gifts that God gives. On this Thanksgiving Day, may the eyes of your heart be amazed by God’s many good and perfect gifts. Amen.