After purchasing my first iphone I discovered I had an uncanny knack for taking out of focus pictures. It wasn’t until one of my kids told me about the focus box that my iphone picture taking skills improved.
Focus in photography and in life is essential; Where we focus our time, our energy, our thoughts, and self-perceptions has a lot to do with how clearly we view God, others, and ourselves.
We can hyper-focus on our accomplishments to the point we start to believe they somehow define us, risking a skewed sense of our importance and over-inflation of our egos. In the same way, we can zoom in on our failings to the point that the fear of experiencing any further pain can cause us to retreat into a shell, robbing us of relationships and diminishing our perceived value to our friends, our family, and our Creator.
The Apostle Paul had a lot to focus on, both good and bad. He was a “Pharisee of Pharisees” – the cream of the crop in his religious order. And yet he also carried the guilt of being one who – in the zealous attempt to defend his religion – persecuted the early Church. In other words, he had a lot, both good and bad, which could have distracted him. Maybe it was these very things he was considering when he penned the words found in scripture’s third chapter of the book of Philippians; “…forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.” (NASB)
These thoughts also can speak to the importance of “taking every thought captive” (2 Corinthians 10:5) by reprogramming our minds to dwell on the truth; to celebrate our accomplishments without over-inflating their relevance, and to learn from our mistakes while not allowing ourselves to be deflated by guilt and shame. Paul gives us additional insights on exactly how to do this in the fourth chapter of Philippians, “Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things.”
This all can take a great deal of work, but making the effort to re-focus our thoughts will, in the end, bring our life into true clarity.