Ezer Equipped: Fixing our Focus
Over the last couple of years, my vision has deteriorated, and I’ve become farsighted. Everything up close is blurry, which makes it hard to see menus, read directions, or even see my watch. So I invested in three pairs of reading glasses, all of which are strategically placed—one in my bag, one in my office, and one where I do my morning reading and journaling. They are immensely helpful for clarifying everything close up, but they also make everything far away blurry. I might be able to better read a book, but I can no longer make out the facial features of a person sitting across from me. It’s an issue of focus, where my eyes are dialed in.
Our eyes are so important to our daily lives. They help us navigate, discern danger, and even connect with others relationally. So when you can’t see clearly what’s in front of you, it’s hard to understand what you are looking at and act accordingly. While this is true of our physical sight, it is also true spiritually. Jesus calls our eyes the lamp for our bodies. He says that when your eye is healthy, your whole body is full of light, but when your eye is unhealthy, your whole body is full of darkness. In a more literal form, the word translated here as healthy means clear, single, or undivided. It’s an issue of focus—where you’ve set your gaze.
I’ve noticed that when my eyes are fixated on the things about my husband that annoy me, those things are clarified and all his good qualities become blurry and indistinguishable until eventually, everything about him annoys me, and I become short-tempered and despising. When I focus on what I lack, I can no longer see clearly or appreciate all I do have, and I become discontent, bitter, or entitled. When I focus on my troubles, they become magnified, and I lose sight of God until I become fearful and controlling or self-protective and withdrawn. But the opposite is also true. When I focus on the things about my husband that I love or admire, those things are clarified, and my appreciation for him grows. When I focus on all that I have in Christ, my contentment and gratitude grow, and I can see all the more how generous and kind God has been to me. Again, it’s an issue of focus.
Whatever I set my gaze on is magnified. And what I see informs what I think. What I think informs what I believe. And what I believe shapes who I become. It seems our eyes have some spiritual superpower—whatever they focus on takes root in our hearts. Perhaps this is why Jesus cautioned us about our eyes being the lamp for our bodies—whatever your eyes are set upon, wherever your gaze is fixed, your heart will follow!
Regularly examining and adjusting our focus is a vital spiritual discipline. When my eyes are fixated on the things of this world, everything becomes blurry and I lose spiritual clarity. But when I fix my gaze on Christ—when he is my singular focus—everything is clarified. Fixing our gaze on Christ doesn't eliminate hardship. It's not a form of denial. Instead, it’s focusing on a greater reality that exists. And that greater reality brings clarity to everything else in my world. He right-sizes my problems. He reorients my desires. He renews my spiritual strength.
As the old hymn says, “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.”
Women’s Discipleship Advisor
This month, we will read five passages that explore an important aspect of vision to our spiritual journey. Perhaps, choose one per week to focus on. Don’t rush through, but take time to read, journal, and pray over each Scripture. How do these passages both encourage and challenge you?
Hebrews 12:1-3: Fixing our focus helps us persevere in the face of sin and suffering.
We are all on a spiritual journey, and we will face many obstacles along the way. The author of the book of Hebrews understands how difficult the journey will be, so he challenges us to throw off all those things that can weigh us down and trip us up along the way, and he points us to the one thing that makes perseverance possible.
“We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith.”
Matthew 6:19-34: Fixing our focus helps us not be overcome by the cares of this world.
If we focus on our cares, anxieties, and troubles, those things move into the foreground and make it hard to see anything else. Likewise, when we focus on the good things we want in this world, those too move into the foreground and become all we can see, blurring everything else in the periphery. This passage brings clarity by challenging us to actively look for and set our sights on the one thing that will bring all other things into focus.
“But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.”
Psalm 27: Fixing our focus gives us confident hope in times of fear and trouble.
When trouble surrounds us and the world seems against us, it is easy to get discombobulated and give in to fear and our desires for control, assurances, and even vengeance. Yet, in the face of his enemies, David asks the Lord for one thing.
“The one thing I ask of the Lord—the thing I seek most—is to live in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, delighting in the Lord’s perfections and meditating in his Temple.”
Psalm 37: Fixing our focus helps us desire rightly.
We often misinterpret and misapply this verse—convincing ourselves that when we prove our desire for the Lord, he will give us whatever we want. But the truth of this verse is that when we desire the Lord, he will align the desires of our hearts with what he desires for us.
“Take delight in the Lord, and he will give you your heart’s desires.”
Colossians 3:1-16 Fixing our focus reminds us of our greater spiritual reality.
Because we live in between Christ’s first coming and his second, it is easy to lose sight of the greater spiritual reality that exists but has not yet been fully manifested in our lives. And when we do, we can slip into old ways of thinking and living.
“Since you have been raised to new life with Christ, set your sights on the realities of heaven, where Christ sits in the place of honor at God’s right hand.”
Fixing Our Eyes on Eternity | Journeywomen Podcast with Vanessa Hawkins
Even as believers, it's tempting to think that this world is all there is. When we fixate on either our joys or sorrows, we lose sight of the hope of eternity and what God might be accomplishing through all the circumstances of our lives.
“The joys and hardships are not an end unto themselves. Looking solely at our joys might lead us to conclude that we have somehow earned favor because of our own goodness. Looking solely at the sorrows might lead us to falsely conclude that our unpleasant circumstances result from the Lord’s displeasure, or that he doesn’t care.”
1.Take some time to reflect on the last year. What are a few things you’ve been hyper-focused on? Were you distracted by:
- Your circumstances (health, a job, a relationship, the state of our culture/country/government, or your financial security)
- Your own sin
- Suffering (yours or others)
2.What got the majority of your attention?
3.Wherever you set your gaze has your attention and captures your imagination. This, in turn, informs what you think and believe, as well as how you live based on those beliefs. How has what you have been focused on informed your thoughts and actions in the last year?
4.What we focus on is magnified. How has what you've been focused on become all-consuming? What emotional and spiritual impact has that had on you? Has it dimmed your focus on eternity and the spiritual inheritance you have in Christ, or has it magnified it? How so?
1.As you evaluate what you have been focusing on and how it has impacted you, it's important to ask what steps you may need to take to realign your vision so you can see clearly. What would that be for you?
- What have you ignored that you need to refocus on? What do you need to do to redirect that energy? To whom do you need to confess? Who can you ask for help?
- Is there a relationship that has been damaged by your lack of focus and attention? If so, what steps do you need to take to make amends?
- If the things of this world have choked out what really matters and caused you to lose focus, what steps can you take to reorient your heart toward God and his Word? How will you make that a priority? Who can help you?
- We learned from Scripture that fixing our focus helps us in five specific ways. Identify one or two areas where your vision needs adjustment.
Fixing our focus:
- Helps us persevere in the face of sin and suffering.
- Helps us not be overcome by the cares of this world.
- Gives us confident hope in times of fear and trouble.
- Helps us desire rightly.
- Reminds us of our greater spiritual reality.
Write a prayerful response that includes asking God to renew your desire for him and the courage to take the steps to clarify your spiritual vision.
- Where you set your gaze leads to desires that either align with God’s will or with our flesh. Read Genesis 3. What role did Eve’s gaze play in her thoughts and actions?
- For practical ideas to help reorient your gaze towards Christ, check out our Hold Fast newsletter.
For Further Study
Book by Amy Gannett
Book by Jen Wilkin