Thursday, August 6, 2009

Where Is Your Focus?

I greatly enjoy photography. Although I am not an excellent photographer; occasionally, I am able to capture amazing pictures. One day, (when I no longer have a two year old...) I hope to pursue this hobby more fully. One thing that God recently revealed to me has to do with my focus.

In photography when you are using a higher range/grade lens, you can only focus on one image at a time. Take a look at the photos below that my husband took of me while we are at Ruby Falls. I was closer to him; the falls were behind me.

He had focused in on the falls here hoping to catch me on the side...Now look what happened when he focused on me with the falls in the background:

(Yes, this is me in all of my "camping glory" a.k.a. NO make-up...feel the love here people that I am willing to post a non-make up photo... ;))

As you can see; he was unable to focus in on both the falls and me. Either the Falls or myself lost clarity respectively. Yes, if he were further away from both myself and the falls he could probably have captured both together; but the walkway only went a short distance back AND the photo would have lost the details that only a close up can bring.

What God revealed to my heart was that when I draw close to Him; close enough to rest in the Shadow of the Almighty, I must choose what I will focus on. Am I going to focus on His outstretched hand - as a demanding child only looking for His provision. Or am I going to focus on His face - locking my gaze with His and trusting in His love for me; trusting that He will perfect and provide for all that concerns me?

When we are up close; we must choose our focus. When we are far enough away to see both; we are too far away to experience either fully.

My husband's job is going through a lot of changes right now. Many of us are walking one step at a time right now, waiting for God to shed His light onto our next steps. But let's face it; most of us have difficulty waiting for God's provision. We pray, cast our cares upon him...and then when it seems that God is not providing right away, our focus shifts and we find ourselves staring at His hand wondering if He has forgotten somehow to provide for us.

He recently reminded me to lift my gaze. To keep my focus where it needs to be. To allow Him to perfect that which concerns me because He is at work and He sees the bigger picture of what we (my family & I) need.

In the book of Daniel, we catch a glimpse of a Godly man who has petitioned God daily seemingly without a response. For three weeks Daniel humbles himself and prays daily. Then(Chapter 10) an angel appears to him. The angels tells Daniel, "Do not be afraid, Daniel. From the first day that you set your mind to gain understanding and to humble yourself before the God, your words were heard and I have come in response to them. But the prince of the Persian kingdom resisted me twenty one days." (10:12-13) The angel goes on to answer Daniel's petition to the Lord and he tells Daniel to be at peace and to be strong.

When we "set our minds to gain understanding and humble ourselves before God," He hears our petitions. He is at work even now answering.

Part of what God was revealing to my own heart, was that when I get so focused on His hand of provision; I am NOT walking in humility. Instead, as a demanding child, I just continually ask the same question without allowing my father to respond. In those moments, I am not "setting my mind to understanding His will;" I'm simply demanding my own.

While this post is not "pretty," revealing my own shortcomings in both a Spiritual and physical sense; I pray that it would draw you to lift your gaze to the beauty of His face and to trust in God's love and provision in your own life.

Blessings to you,

Shanda

15 comments:

Amanda @ Serenity Now said...

GREAT post, Shanda! I love the photographs used as a teaching tool. Good reminder. :)

HappyascanB said...

I am constantly amazed at your ability to see God in EVERYTHING! You teach me so much wtih every post, Shanda! And I love you for it!! The falls are beautiful, and so are you!!

Farmgirl Paints said...

It's nice to see a picture of you even if it's a "camping" one:)

Thank you so much for your words of encouragement today. I can't really tell you enough how much it means to me. I will definitely be pulling Daniel out tonight and meditating. So good to have Godly friends.

rhemashope said...

Beautiful! You, the Falls, this post - all beautiful glory to God! The fact that we must *choose* what to focus on is such a powerful point. Thank you, Lord, I hear you loud and clear.

christy rose said...

I think you look great in those pictures. No make up and all! What a great object lesson. It shows a great point that we can not focus on two things at the same time. We can not focus on the work of Jesus and what he accomplished for us and focus on our needs and concerns at the same time. One will override the other. What a great point! Thanks for the lesson and reminder.
Christy

Carla J Schuchman said...

Shanda, I love the way we can encourage each other at just the time of need. I have spent away the day staying in my room with no energy and no motivation to really do anything. I battle a depressed attitude a lot and well with the circumstance I find myself in, it's so easy to do nothing lest I do something. You have reminded me of where my focus is. It's on me, not on Him. I love Him so much and life so wants to steel my focus from Him. Thank you! Bless You!
Carla

joybug56 said...

Shanda,
This is excellent! I loved it so much and it is so perfect for the place that most of us are dwelling these days: I put it on my FB page giving you credit for this awesome thought: Thank yo so much for all the wonderful inspirations put into my heart by your yielding to His TRuths to teach me.
Lubbya

RCUBEs said...

Hi.Just want to thank you for visiting me and leaving an encouraging comment.

This post is a beautiful reminder of why we must always keep our eyes focused on Jesus. While looking at your insight about photography and the pics you posted, the thought of "we can't really serve 2 masters at the same time" came to mind also.

Blessings to you sister Shanda and looking forward to coming here again.

Pam D said...

Actually, Shanda, this post is beautiful, in both clarity AND focus. And you are lovely, with or without makeup, and both inside and out. I am always so blessed when I come here.. you do a wonderful job of allowing God to reveal Himself through you.
hugs...

Sun-Kissed Savages said...

I love this quote of yours and plan to post it in my study, "When we are up close; we must choose our focus. When we are far enough away to see both; we are too far away to experience either fully."
It's so true. Your analogy applies to so many other aspects of life, as well.
Thank you. We're walking one day at a time right now, too, and my needy focus has been on the outstretched hands. The beautiful reality, though, is that I can be IN His hands, while focused on His glorious face.

Karen said...

Shanda, This is my first visit. I loved the focus illustration! I just bought my first digital camera. I always stunk at photography, but they told me I cannot mess up with this one! We'll see! God bless you!

Brandy said...

Very good post. I came over here from HisGirlAmber's blog. I loved your photos - that was a great illustration for me. god is definitely speaking to me about focus these days, and this was a really good lesson.

Warren Baldwin said...

Tremendous post! Great use of a metaphor to convey an important spiritual point. We need the daily reminder to focus past our struggles to God.

Did you ever get my address? I send it by email but am wondering if it got through to you?

Warren

Gretchen said...

We do have that free will thang, don't we? I am guilty of trying to focus too many directions, for sure. Thank you for the gentle rebuke (which I know you gave yourself, too) to focus on what's most important. And well done, you, for not worrying about "camper glam". You look great to me.Hugs.

Elizabeth Mahlou said...

Great insights about keeping focused!