Lord, we come to You today with surrendered hearts. We simply desire to know You more, love You more, and live more like You desire us to live. Help us to see some deeper insight in Your Word today into what You are calling us to be/do today and help us to act upon Your Word and live out what we know to be True. Amen. Colossians 3:1-2 Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things.
I've been a swimmer most of my life, and in high school I competed in a number of strokes and distances, but my main events were the longer distances - the one most of my friends found incredibly boring. I was most often asked, "what do you do with your mind when you are swimming stroke after stroke, lap after lap?"
For me, the trick was to look ahead - I constantly found a point ahead of me in the pool and I focused on reaching that spot, moving onto the next focal point when I reached each one. Using focal points isn't anything new in any sport, and it works the same in swimming as it does elsewhere - it gets you beyond the moment of what your body is doing mechanically, sets your sights on where you are headed, and points you in the direction of where you need to go and what you need to do to get there.
I remember some races where my body just hurt so bad; times when I probably led out the start of the event faster than my pace normally be in that particular distance. It would be because the competition in the race necessitated it, because adrenaline got the best of me, or I just didn't prep right for the event. In those races, the focal points kept me from focusing on every stroke and kick and how they hurt, where the extra energy was going to come from, how much of the race was left -- all the excruciating details of the moment.
Then there were other races where I found my stride from the moment I left the starting block. Those were great swims - I could FEEL how my body moved in sync as it should, how the water fell away with little resistance -- I could tell I just hit my sweet spot for those races. During those races, the focal points kept me moving smoothly and on pace, often with great results.
When I first read Paul's words to the Colossians, I couldn't help but think about those focal points I had used back in high school and wonder if that is what Paul was referring to -- that because of our resurrection life in Christ, our focal points are now set on heaven's priorities. The heavenly focal points take us beyond the moment of our current situation and recalibrate us and bring us in sync with what Heaven has in store for our lives. Paul used the phrase "set your _______ on things above" twice in the passage -- it's like he knows that they eyes of our hearts and the eyes of our minds can perceive two different, conflicting things at the same time and that both need to have their focus on heaven, not just one of them.
Setting my HEART on things above, to me, means that I am striving to put Christ's priorities into practice; to be His heart on display in my life each day. Setting my MIND on things above, to me, means that I'm concentrating on the eternal rather than the worldly - I'm looking at my day with kingdom eyes, not just focused on my own, small point of view on things.
So how do I live this out? How do I live out of my New Identity and set heaven as my focal point of my day all throughout my day? When the kids frustrate me beyond belief? When the house is a complete wreck and I'm overwhelmed by the enormity of it all? When my friends are hurting and I can't help but despair for their heartache? When I don't want to be a grown up anymore and just want to go hide under the covers with my flashlight and a good book? When I don't feel like I'm seen or make a difference at all, so why bother?
I think the best understanding I have of this, is that it is precisely in those times that I must realize and cling to the fact that I DO have a new identity given to me through Christ's Resurrection, and that I can tackle each of those moments from a different point of view - a different focal point - that takes me beyond the moment and into God's Promises for me. Promises of Peace, Grace, and Hope. Gifts of Forgiveness and Strength in my weakness. Then I tackle what I face each day through that view and intentional return to it again and again when my heart and mind wander and I feel my vision or attention stray away.
What are your thoughts on this? What difficulties do you face in keeping your focal point on heaven's priorities for you? What practical steps do you/can you take to realign and resync your vision throughout your walk each day?