I think I’ll sit here. Hmm, there’s an alert on my phone. “Fantasy football player rankings for Week 11.” I wonder if there are any worthy free agents this week… I wonder what that couple at the bar are talking about… Are they together? Is this a lunch date? Hmm, that cheese in the display case looks familiar. Let me go see… Yep, Guggisberg Baby Swiss, just like I thought. OK, back to my seat. Wonder when my sandwich will be ready…
That was my mind at lunch yesterday. Have you ever slowed down and thought about what you think about? It amazes me how fast my brain can go from one thing to the next to the next - and I hardly realize I’m doing it.
What’s interesting, though, is that even though my brain is able to quickly process all of the stimuli my senses bring to it, it’s only locked onto one thing at a time. Can you relate? Really stop and think about your thoughts... Even with all of the things on your mind, are you ever processing more than one at a time?
We live in an age in which multi-tasking is the norm. In some ways - from the classroom to the workplace to our families and social circles - it's expected. Why wouldn't it be, right? Be more connected, productive and successful. It just makes sense.
The problem is, research suggests that multi-tasking doesn’t really exist. What we call multi-tasking is actually just "task switching", moving our attention from one activity to another.
Whether it's our thoughts or our actions, our ability to focus is essential. Focus is sustained energy concentrated on one thing for the purpose of growth and impact. Without it, our lives get hung up in a bog of distractions.
The same is true when it comes to our faith. We desire growth and impact, but we often experience lack of traction and the sense that we're not going anywhere. I wonder if this has less to do with our desires and more with our attention.
Our discussion of Philippians last Sunday centered on this idea of focus. Throughout the passage, Paul reminded his audience (and us) that we only give our attention to one thing at a time: staying stuck in the faults of our past or moving toward the hope of our future; being destroyed by our desires in this life or being renewed by our desires for the next; allowing differences to divide us or practicing love in order to bring us together.
It's only one or the other and it's always a choice. Attention isn't taken from us; we give it away.
Where have you given your attention so far this week? Your past or your future? Getting all you can in this life or giving all you can in favor of the next? The shortcomings of others or the unique value they bring to your life?
Our challenge for the rest of the week is to focus our thoughts and actions on who we long to become: the people of God who bring the unsurpassing goodness of his kingdom to earth. And the best way to do this is to focus on Jesus, the man of God who in the King.
In Jesus, we know that our best days are ahead. In Jesus, we have a perfect home in heaven that will last forever (so who cares if we don't get everything we want here?). And in Jesus, we are encouraged and empowered to get over our differences and love others well because of the love he first showed us on the Cross.
What will it take for you to give Jesus your attention today? Don't get distracted; it's the most important question you can answer.