Have you ever felt scattered? As if there is too much on your plate to manage, or it’s too hard to keep your eye on the ball when you’re trying to keep too many balls in the air, or there are not enough fingers for too many pies? Any of those sayings that we trot out to try and explain that we’re very busy and feeling overwhelmed.
Maybe even not so busy, but still feeling overwhelmed. Or in a super long holding period that doesn’t seem to have an end. Even learning a new skill, or re-learning an old one.
If/when our brains and our heart get separated from the Spirit of God within us, all kinds of feelings can rise that create a mist in front of the reality of the Presence of God, and the truth about whatever situation we are in. It can mean we miss the real work that’s happening, or can be tempted to speak falsely about the situation, people or God; to ourselves at least, even if we don’t say those things out loud to other people.
This issue has been a fun one for me over the last years! Learning how to not use my brain and my ability to manage things, but instead having to learn a new way. Not just the renewing of the mind, but having to recognise that if I tried in any way to rely on my brain and ability, I would end up in a heap without warning and without dignity in any possible combination of situations public or private. Praise God, He’s teaching me His brain and His way of thinking!
One of the biggest lessons I have learned has been, how much different life is when I concentrate on Jesus first.
Literally. Quite seriously.
But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Matthew 6:33 (NIV)
Post brain injury, I knew that it was sink or swim, and that if it was left up to me, I was just going to sink into the blackness and disappear. My focus from the beginning was on cultivating intimacy with God.
I had to spend many years relearning how to be coordinated, recreating neural pathways, learning how to manage days when the choices were shower or eat but not both. How to be presentable in public, to conserve energy so that I could give my best in the times I needed to be with people and a host of other either/or choices. The journey hasn’t finished.
So. Everything became Jesus. Day and night, waking and sleeping, pain and brief relief, everything was focussed on worship. I made the biggest worship playlist I could – and made it bigger over time. I played it on repeat and random day and night. I put it on my phone, so that it was available to me when I had to go out.
Over the years, He’s added things to the list of stuff for me to re-learn to manage. At first it was simple things, and then they became more complex. Although I don’t think that I’m ever going to be a workaholic-multitasking-overachiever again somehow!
The key to it all has been where my focus is.
If my focus is on the face of God, then whatever comes towards me gets dealt with, with a minimum of effort, in ease and with clarity. There is ability to discern its importance for the moment and whether I need to say yes or no, and can shrug unimportant or unnecessary things off without guilt. If my focus has slipped, then I notice the difference immediately. I become fatigued quicker, when I need to make either/or decisions I become fractious and unsettled and guilt, blame and excuses begin. If I allow it to continue, then my emotional health begins to decline, and unhelpful thought patterns creep in.
I have noticed that when I am in that place of absolute reliance, surrender and focus; life, the universe and everything is lubricated in a way that it definitely isn’t when my focus, surrender and reliance slips.
There’s nothing about this single minded pursuit of God that ignores or removes the issues that I have to deal with everyday either. I don’t know what you have found, but walking The Narrow Way doesn’t stop life from happening to you or around you. It doesn’t stop us from carrying responsibility for our choices past, present or future. We cannot empty our minds and forget that our bills, our families, our limitations, or consequences from our past actions or the choices of others aren’t there. Jesus never did say that He had come to make everything perfect, only that He had beaten the darkness so we could also beat it with Him.
“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” John 16:33 (NIV)
I still spend days in the literal dark (Poor Norbert! Good thing he’s mostly super lazy…) and have to choose what is important on a list that sometimes has few things on it. I am still learning how to manage each new responsibility that gets added to my list as He adds it, and I still have to be careful not to look back at what I used to be able to do and either lament the past or over-shoot my current ability.
I have learned for real that God does not care how much we can do. What He wants, is to be important to us. So important that we would drop our nets or our housework or our lunch if He walked by…