A Matter of Focus

For to set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace.
Romans 8:6

These are the words that have lately reverberated just beneath the currents of disproportionately harried thoughts, been whispered into each quiet space between waves of fatigue or age-related aches, demanded focus in my first conscious thought, and are sighed into the last fuzzy moments of the day before sleep stakes its claim. “For to set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace…”

Why am I anxious? Why do I fret and fuss over endless task lists? For what reason do I dart about from one place to the next, hardly noticing the world and the people around me? Do these things exhibit the “gentle and quiet spirit, which in God’s sight is very precious,” that Peter writes of in his first letter? Does my frantic fussing, my anxious activity exhibit the fruit of the Holy Spirit-controlled life that sets apart the followers of Yeshua Messiah and brings honor to the Almighty?

No, I am afraid not. And so, as I have found myself recently slipping back into habits worn by the old woman, the pre-Christ me, I find that my Lord is reminding me constantly to rethink my attire, to put on His generously offered cloak rather than my shabby old garments; reminding me that He has covered my shame as my Kinsman-Redeemer, removing my reproach.  In so doing, He is pointing out those places where my perspective has shifted subtly away from Him and onto the wind and the waves, reminding me to keep my eyes on Him that I may walk and not sink.

He reminds me, not because He demands my attention as a stern dictator, but because I love Him and  have asked Him to do so.  I want my life to reflect those qualities that show He is worthy of my attention and my trust quite despite what is going on around me or within my body. I long to be an oak of righteousness, planted for the display of His splendor. I desire to live a life that reflects the perfect peace of one whose mind is steadfast because she trust in her God.

And so, I am thankful for these many reminders. I do not need to set my mind on my own flesh: on the cares of this world (though they are many), on the failings of my physical body (my flesh and my heart may fail, but the Lord my God is my strength and my portion forever), nor on all the activities that threaten to crowd and cramp my schedule (though they may be far more than I enjoy). These are all small deaths, this hurry, this restless striving, these moments of anxiety. I do not want this living death any longer but instead to thrive in life and peace.  Even as go about a busy day or a day filled with weariness and pain, I can still keep my eyes fixed on the Author and Perfecter of my faith, to always take time to stop and notice, speak a cheerful word, engage in conversation, appreciate the beauty around me.

I need to live my life with praise upon my lips, heart swelling with gratitude for my Savior and love for Him and His people, joy permeating even the most mundane of my tasks. I want to do this, to live such a life. Not because I must in order to satisfy the rigorous, religious demands nor because I desire to be well thought of among my peers. No, I want to live this way because I truly want my life to be a living sacrifice, my spiritual act of worship to a God who loves in such astonishing capacity that I am overwhelmed with love for Him in return.

And so, Father, please continue to remind me not to allow my mind to be ensnared by the ever-present demands of this world and by weariness. Captivate me with Your presence, quiet me with Your love. Train the whole of my thoughts and heart to be unwaveringly fixed on the Spirit of Life so that my days will exhibit Your peace to all for the glory of Your Son and in His name, amen.

What are the things that distract you from a mind set on the Spirit, bringing life and peace? May the Giver of all good gifts grant you insight to see them and ability to refocus on Him today!

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