The pressures of everyday life can really get me down sometimes. I’ve got two deadlines looming, the kids are sick, the bills are behind, the car’s in the shop, and I’m just not feeling very focused on the tasks at hand. To top it all off, I just don’t seem to be getting anything out of the pastor’s sermons lately, and my prayer life has certainly begun to suffer. It can all become quite overwhelming.
I crash with a book on the sofa at night, but I read the same sentence four times before I realize that I still have no idea what it said, and in complete exasperation, I toss the book and pick up the remote. Flipping through the channels, I’m forced to endure part of Coldplay’s "Yellow" video that it seems like VH-1 has played twice every hour for the past year or so. I manage to hang on until it’s over, and that’s where I finally get my pay off. God uses a cell phone commercial to remind me about what is really important in life.
I’m sure you’ve seen it. A woman walks through midtown Manhattan while Catherine Zeta Jones explains how she is too focused on her problem at work to see all of the really weird things going on all around her, until … she gets a cell phone with a digital camera built right in, and the world around her once again comes into focus.
So what’s God telling me? Do I need a new cell phone? Would a new digital camera solve my problems? No. I need a new focus (and I don’t mean one made by Ford). I need to quit focusing on me and my problems and start focusing on God and His glory.
Christianity isn’t about being self-sacrificing or self-indulgent. It isn’t about being self-effacing or selfish. It isn’t about self at all. It is about Christ. Forget about yourself. Forget your problems and remember to look around. Focus on the beauty that is right in front of you. Focus on the world that God has made—a world of which we are a part and apart from which we cannot be ourselves. It’s a big, wonderful world, and it reflects the character of God.
If you spend your life looking only at yourself, you lose contact with the rest of the world. You will spend all your time and energy worrying about school, career, clothes, friends and enemies. Leave all of that stuff behind you for just a little while and look around. Open up and let other people matter to you. Take time to not only smell the roses, but to pick a few, put them in a vase and take them to a retirement home.
Spread some cheer. Share some joy, and you might just find that you are having a good time.
My worst days can be made the best by my wife’s smile, my son’s button nose and my daughter’s blue, blue eyes. Sometimes even the inane antics of the dog will make me smile (and we have a tenuous relationship at best). God has put the people and things in your life to help you experience life at its best.
When we take a bigger view of things, God will give us more grace and love for others. We’ll find ourselves responding to the needs of others instead of wasting all of our time worrying about ourselves. It’s just possible that we might even begin to thank God for everything we see, hear and feel. We thank Him not only for beauty, but also for the miracle of sight, not just for the music, but also for the wonder of hearing, not solely for warmth, but also for the sense of touch. But we have to thank Him even more for Jesus, without whom we are certainly blind, deaf and unfeeling.
So, let’s face it. Sometimes life just stinks. The power blinks off during the night and you wake up late. You cut yourself trying to shave in a rush. You’re late for class or work. There is a stack of bills waiting for you that total far more than your income can handle, and your student loan payment is due next week. If you focus on all of that stuff, you’ll soon feel like you’re drowning.
Instead, look up. You’ll see a savior walking towards you on the water with His arms held out to you. He’s your lifeboat, so take His hand and rejoice, but always keep in mind that if you don’t look up, if you don’t look around, if you keep looking at yourself and your problems, you’ll certainly miss the boat.[Robert J. Fortner is just a guy with two kids and too many jobs. You can read his “Thoughts of Inspiration” columns monthly at Piedmontheights.net.]
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