The Discipline of a Fixed Focus

by Angela Ramage

I keep my attention on God in a simple, loving way. This is my soul's secret experience of the actual, unceasing presence of God. It gives me much contentment and joy" (Brother Lawrence in The Practice of the Presence of God).

Brother Lawrence's words, "I keep my attention on Godů," remind us of the words of the Apostle Paul as he wrote to Colossian believers: "Set your mind on the things above, not on the things that are on earth. For you have died and your life is hidden with Christ in God" (Col. 3:2-3).

There is a secret to the Christian life that many overlook. Paul, however, understood it and often wrote about it. Jesus practiced it daily and taught it to His disciples. It is the discipline of maintaining a fixed focus on God.

If Peter had practiced this, he would have never noticed the raging waves billowing at his side that night on the stormy Sea of Galilee. but we often do what Peter did; we start out with our spiritual gaze set on Christ, only to have it drift over to the varying circumstances of life. When this happens we fall into feelings of insecurity, fear, anxiety, anger, and more.

The writer of Hebrews also admonishes us to "fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfector of our faith" Heb. 12:2 NIV . Again, Paul advises us to " fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal" (2 Cor. 4:18).

Focusing on the troubles of your life only diverts your attention away from God. Apart from Jesus Christ, nothing has the power to heal what is hurt or to correct what has been damaged. Only God has the ability to calm your fears, lay to rest your suffering, and bring peace in place of frustration and sorrow.

A few years ago, Steffi Graf, the reigning women's tennis champion was asked the secret to her game. She didn't hesitate as she told reporters, "I keep my eyes fixed on the [tennis] ball." She went on to explain that her concentration was so refined that while she was playing she actually could see the lettering of the company that had made the ball.

Neither the movement or reaction of her opponent, nor the crowd, affected her game. Her mental focus was fixed on one object and that was the secret to her success.

What is the object of your life? If it is Jesus, then you ultimately will experience victory instead of defeat, and spiritual growth instead of stagnation.

The reason Peter's thoughts betrayed him was because they were set on himself. He felt the power of the storm-driven sea and his mind buckled. Panic swept over him because he had taken his eyes off of the Lord.

On an earlier trip across the Sea of Galilee, Jesus had proven that He was in control of the elements. Why did Peter doubt His ability? Never become discouraged when you bypass a spiritual lesson. God is faithful, and He will create another situation in order to refine your faith.

When you face life's difficulties, keep your eyes on the Savior. He is the One who holds your course steady. And He will complete His work in your life. First Thessalonians 5:24 reminds us of this very fact: "Faithful is He who calls you, and He also will bring it to pass." Therefore, even when you experience life's victories, keep your eyes on Jesus. Praise Him for His care and faithful love for you. He is the author and perfecter of your faith.

One day a friend showed Helen Lemmel a tract that was entitled Focu sed. Helen, who was a noted Christian singer and voice teacher, was immediately touched by the words written on the tiny piece of paper.

Later she wrote the words and music to a hymn that we have grown to know and love. It is entitled "Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus."

"O soul, are you weary and troubled? No light in the darkness you see? There's light for a look at the Savior, and life more abundant and free! Turn your eyes upon Jesus, look full in his wonderful face, and the things of earth will grow strangely dim in the light of his glory and grace."

The discipline of focus is not difficult, though you may experience the enemy's reproof as he tries to distract and draw you away from time spent alone with God. Persevere in your devotion by asking the Lord to provide and protect time alone with Him.

Prayer and devotion are essential to a spiritually focused life. Jesus made both of these priorities in His life, and He is our spiritual model.

Allowing Him to become the focus of your life will free you from worry and doubt. When you trust Him with the entirety of your life, you can rest in the fact that He has the complete ability to take care of your every need. He loves you and He will do what He has promised to do in and through your life. Abundant blessings await all who see the Savior through a focused heart.

In Touch Magazine March, 1999 issue
copyright 1999 In Touch Ministries
Used by permission.