Sunday, February 10, 2013

Focus on the Good

I am glad the new year begins during winter. Living in the Midwest with our cold, frigid temperatures can make it challenging to stay upbeat and positive; it can be a struggle not to get in a depression and get stuck there. But there is something about the simple act of taking down an expired calendar and replacing it with a fresh new one, that is akin to wiping the slate clean. Just pondering the possibilities of what lies ahead can be exciting. Only God knows what’s around the bend for each of us, and His word tells us it can be full of good things:

“Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland.” (Is 43:18-19 NIV)

I love how these verses start with a command to “forget”. God doesn’t want us to dwell on the past. While He expects us to learn from our mistakes, He doesn’t want us stuck in them. (That includes dwelling on the mistakes made by others.) By the time we get to the end of a year we can feel bogged down by all the negative stuff that has accumulated. However, a New Year can give us a much needed lift, a new outlook with creative fresh ideas.

Actually, if we were to resolve to make just one small change in our thinking this year, it could make a world of difference in our life. For instance, what if we were to focus on the good, asking God for His perspective every time life doesn’t go our way? Instead of getting angry that someone cuts us off in traffic, for example, what if we asked God for His perspective instead? We just might hear God whisper something to us like: maybe they recently found out they have cancer; or, maybe their spouse just informed them they want a divorce; or, maybe their child was just convicted of a crime. These life-changing tragedies happen to people every day, rocking their world and causing them to have a tough time with simple acts like driving.

So, what if for this upcoming year we resolved to simply be more patient and understanding with “the other guy”? How might that one small habit change our life? Personally, I’m choosing that theme for my focus this year. Every year God gives me a theme tucked inside a verse. This year, I’m sensing it should be from Ephesians, Chapter 1, “that the eyes of my heart might be enlightened”, so that I can focus on the good.

That’s not to say I will ignore those things that need dealt with, but that I want to choose to see situations through the eyes of my heart. I want to simply pause and ask myself what the other guy might be going through.

What peace might be ours if we were to allow our hearts to be governed by the “Prince of peace” this year?

I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in his holy people, and his incomparably great power for us who believe (Ephesians 1:18-19).

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