What are you comfortable paying attention to? I’m usually more comfortable paying attention to a lot of things—both inside and outside of my head. I like taking in information about the what’s going on within and around me. I also like connecting dots in my head to make sense of all of the pieces of information I’ve gathered. Therein lies one of my biggest challenges. Because I’m so comfortable attending more broadly, it takes a lot of discipline for me to narrow my attention when dedicated focus is necessary. In fact, when I have to do it, I often feel like a toddler on punishment. I try to find all sorts of excuses and “work arounds” to move on to something else. It isn’t that I don’t enjoy what I may be doing; I just don’t like having to only focus on that one thing. And, here’s the real kicker: when I am more intentional and purposeful about focusing my attention, I reach my goals much faster, deadlines are met, and I’m much less stressed. Perhaps, you’re really great at narrowing your attention and focusing in on details…only to find that you’ve analyzed every detail of the bark in front of you but missed the giant fact that you’re standing in front of a tree…in the middle of a forest.J Fear not beloved, there’s hope for all of us.
Like Ezra in the Bible, we can apply the kind of attention necessary to see our goals and dreams come to fruition. In Ezra 7:10, we see that Ezra “set his heart to study the law of the Lord….” The Hebrew word for “set” carries with it the meaning, “to attend to, to direct, and be fixed.” Ezra narrowed his attention, focusedhis heart on studying the law of the Lord so he could do it and teach it. His commitment to do so was necessary for his leadership role in Israel. It’s interesting that earlier verses in the chapter tell us Ezra was skilled in the law of Moses and that the good hand of God was upon Him. While he apparently had been blessed with the necessary skill set and God’s favor, he still had to make a decision to “set is heart to study.” This week, I had to make some decisions about effective use of my time. I’ve been working on two major projects that should have been completed months ago. They aren’t complete because I haven’t really focused my attention or dedicated the time necessary to see them through. As I did things differently this past week, I was encouraged by the major strides I was able to make.
The fact is we can’t do everything all of time. We must make choices. Ideally, we seek the Lord’s guidance regarding direction and priorities. We keep things in proper order when we trust His leading. Like Ezra, I want to consistently “set my heart” to study God’s Word. I’m impressed that Ezra was able to stay focused. Talent and gifting can sometimes be distracting. We forget that everything we have comes from the Lord, and we can’t do anything apart from Him. I also want to steward well over every responsibility my heavenly Father entrusts to me. I want to be found intentionally and purposefully doing God’s will.What are you focused on in this New Year? What dream, ministry, or vision needs more of your attention? I encourage you to set your heart to accomplish the necessary activities to see it through. Blessings in Christ, Marvita
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