2000-02-16 - Focus
Proverbs 4:24 (NLT) Look straight ahead, and fix your eyes on what lies before you. 26 Mark out a straight path for your feet; then stick to the path and stay safe.
How many of you spend time doing more than one task at a time? In computer parlance it is called multitasking. This is hailed as a great breakthrough in technology. A computer can work on one task in the foreground while completing other tasks in the background. This is great for a machine, but what about us?
Once again it is confession time for me. I am neurotic about multitasking in my work and leisure. In my work, multitasking started out pretty harmlessly. I rationalized that I was being a good steward of my time by doing two things at once. I would talk on the phone, while drawing a floor plan of a house. No problem. But over time, like a machine, I started doing so many different bits and pieces of work at a time that nothing was getting my full and proper attention. Pretty soon, this cycle of doing more and more, faster and faster, spilled over into every area of my life. Read a magazine, while watching television, while looking up something on the Internet, while answering e-mail, while answering an 'instant message on AOL', while trying to blow off the person on the telephone who is wanting to actually talk. On and on I go -- how much more can I cram into a second? Do you ever feel that way?
When I was a child, my dad used to always say, 'idle hands are the devil's workshop.' Well, you know what? I think overactive hands are the devil's workshop as well. I get going so fast and my brain gets revved up like a race car engine, roaring and sucking in gas and spewing out exhaust more and more quickly. Unlike a race car engine, sometimes I can't ease off the throttle. I stay at breakneck speed, never stopping until something blows. Somewhere between 'idle hands' and 'roaring hands' lie focus and clarity. Ever notice that the faster you drive, the blurrier your peripheral vision becomes? Life gets that way; you crank it up so fast, that it all becomes a blur. You blow past relationships, opportunities to make a difference, and time to focus on your purpose in life.
I hate to admit it, but even walking down the beach I usually cannot just walk down the beach. I need to be listening to a book or music on tape. I am embarrassed to tell you this, but early in the mornings, I like to walk to buy a newspaper, and on the way back I read the headlines while walking back down the beach to where I am staying. So if you ever see a nut reading a paper and walking down the beach, it may just be me! This weekend I walked down the beach, and for the first time in a long time, my only task was simply to walk down the beach. I was walking down the beach, just to walk down the beach. I keep repeating that, and thinking to myself "gee, life should be like this. I should do first things first and focus on one task at a time." Sounds simple, but I think many of you are like me; it is difficult to do just one thing at a time. It is difficult to walk down the beach, just to walk on the beach. It is difficult to ride a bike, just to ride a bike. But, believe me, the evil one is crafty. He has figured out that if he can't get our overachieving multitasking generation with idle hands, he will make us ineffective by overwhelming us with busyness.
Jesus had singular purpose and focus. In His short three-year public ministry, he was in high demand and faced huge crowds of people, some who only wanted to touch His garment. He stayed focused on His mission. My favorite verse regarding this is when Jesus is only twelve years old and his mom and dad are frantically searching for him. They find Him in the Temple and this is how Jesus responds:
Luke 2:49 (KJV) And he said unto them, How is it that ye sought me? wist ye not that I must be about my Father's business?
How about you? Are you like me, having such overly busy hands that you are not going about our Father's business? Join me in trying to slow down and do only the task before you. In the process, we will become more effective not only in our work, but in our quest to be the best we can be for our Heavenly Father. In turn, we will also slow down to a pace that will allow us to focus on others, not seeing them as just blips on the radar screen or interruptions, but people who matter to God. How about it?
Father, forgive us for being a generation who lives at a high-speed pace. Help us to slow down and regain our focus on what You want us to focus on. Help us to live at a pace that brings clarity to our lives and rids us of ineffective living. In Christ's name, Amen.