You keep him in perfect peace
whose mind is stayed on you,
because he trusts in you.
Trust in the LORD forever,
for the LORD GOD is an everlasting rock.
While I was at Kristfest, I saw someone had set up a slackline. Before I go too far, it is important to know that I am not a very graceful person. I have seen people walking a slackline before, and I really wanted to try it out, so, I convinced a couple other Americans there to attempt it with me. At the very least we could all laugh at each other.
We went to the slackline and each took our turn trying to make it across the rope. When I got on, it wasn’t so bad; the rope of course gives a little, but I had my hand against the trunk of a tree and I felt pretty good about trying to make it across. The moment I took my first steps and let go of the tree, I found out it would not be so easy. My legs shook and I had a terrible time trying to gain my footing. I had trouble keeping my balance, so I ended up – as you may have guessed – back on the ground.
I am fairly competitive, and I strongly dislike not being able to do something. Immediately I got back on the rope and tried to do it again…and ended up on the ground after only a couple of steps. Again, I climbed back onto the rope…you can probably guess what happened next. Every time I got on the rope, I immediately looked at my feet, trying to will them to be steady and carry me across the rope. My thought was if I could just focus on my legs enough, I could hold on to the balance I needed to make it across.
Eventually the guy to whom the slackline belonged came over to us. He saw my poor progress and gave me some advice. “Look at the other tree. It will be better, don’t look at [your] feet.” I understood what he meant. I needed to spot where I wanted to go and put my focus there. So, I did as he said. I focused on the tree in front of me, took a couple of breaths to calm myself, then began to make my next attempt.
My legs still shook, but I was able to maintain my balance and get further before I fell again. Happy with my accomplishment, I tried it yet again. Each time I got a little bit further, until I finally made it just short of halfway before we had to go to the next session.
The verse above reminds me of this story, because I often try to manage my life in the same way that I first tried to walk the rope. When I have problems and challenges, my first instinct is to focus on the problem and try to fix it. This isn’t always a bad thing, and sometimes it is effective. The problem isn’t really that I focus on my issue, but that my issue becomes my only focus.
Life is sometimes a balancing act, and it can be really hard to maintain the balance that we need to accomplish what we set out to do. When I focus on the issue that is affecting me the most, I lose sight of anything else that could be causing further issues that hinder my forward progress.
This verse really encourages me to focus on God when other things in my life demand my attention. We all know that God loves us, but sometimes we don’t believe God is going to do anything to help us in our situations in life. When I take a moment to focus on God, though, and let my balance be found in Him, then I am better able to progress through the things that challenge me. I don’t always go through it perfectly, but when I focus on God I find there are so many things in life that matter far less than we think they do.
Life and time are far too important to spend time and energy on things that don’t matter. There are a myriad of things that clamor for our attention, and we all need to – in our own way – find the quietness and the balance in it all. One phrase in this verse that I really like is “The LORD GOD is an everlasting rock.” Before every situation, good or bad, every victory or every loss, God stands, and he always will. No matter what does or doesn’t change, He is always the same, and He always will be. That fact alone should bring a bit of peace into our chaotic lives.
In what ways has God been the focal point that brings balance to your life? What are some ways that you could focus on Him more?
(photos taken by Jill Turley. Thanks Jill!)