I learned an important lesson from my dog Buddy today.
(I am well aware that those of you who know Buddy will find this amusing and probably hard to believe). 🙂
Be that as it may, my little Bichon demonstrated something I needed to remember: focus is key.
I had carried a muffin upstairs for breakfast and proceeded to set it on the table beside me while I did some work on my laptop.
As happens every morning, I heard Buddy galloping down the hallway at full speed, ready to jump up onto my lap to offer me his customary wet and furry greeting for the day.
However, this morning he literally stopped in mid-dash when he saw the muffin.
Suddenly, everything–including me, his favorite person– appeared to be forgotten as he fastened his black eyes on the jewel before him. He moved slowly toward it, finally coming to a stop directly in front of the table. Then he just sat on his haunches and stared.
That is where he remained for ten solid minutes, focused with laser-like intensity on the object of his desire. Nothing made him move, not even the things that normally cause him to erupt into a frenzy of barking, such as the oil truck arriving or the ringing of the jingle bells on the doorknob of the front door, as my daughter ran outside to get her camera from the car.
Buddy’s quest for the muffin ended with the tiniest of tidbits before he happily went on his way, but the image of his focused concentration remained with me.
Where is my focus?
Is it on what it truly important…or the trivial?
The eternal…or the temporal?
Earlier in the week, someone said something to me that really hurt my feelings. I have a fairly tough skin and am certainly open to constructive criticism, but I felt that what was said was totally unwarranted and untrue. I began to turn it over and over in my mind as I went through my day until finally, I heard Jesus speak gently to my spirit: “What is true ?”
That one question immediately put a stop to the fruitless cycle. My focus was all wrong. I had allowed the nastiness of one person (who I didn’t even know personally!) to completely take over my day! What was said was not true…so why was I giving it any more thought?
One of my memory verses for this year is: ” You’ll do best by filling your minds and meditating on…the best and not the worst, the beautiful and not the ugly, things to praise, not things to curse.”–Philippians 4:8 (The Message)
My focus had been on the ugly rather than the beautiful and as a result, I had unnecessarily allowed the day to be colored by a dark brush.
Last night, my mind went into overdrive about a particular issue, which can often happen when I am tired. I found myself lost in a sea of “what if’s?”. I allowed my imagination to run wild with all kinds of scary possibilities, while temporarily losing sight of the myriad of ways Jesus has totally and completely provided for me.
One of the most helpful tools I have learned to combat this comes from author Elizabeth George, who wrote Loving God With All Your Mind .When worry threatens to overwhelm, she suggests asking:
“Is this true and is this real?”
That little question has saved me time and again for pointless worrying. If what I am focused on is neither true, nor real, then why am I allowing it prominence in my thought life? Mark Twain once humorously declared, “I am an old man and have known great and many troubles…but most of them never happened.”
Each time I catch myself being tempted to worry, I meditate on this verse: “Turn your entire attention on what is happening right now and don’t get worked up about what may or may not happen tomorrow. God will help you deal with whatever hard things come up when the time comes.” —Matthew 6:34 (The Message).
That verse came to my rescue last night and as I started to focus on what was true and real, I was able to relax and get to sleep. There are so many blessings to focus on right now! I am no longer willing to miss those things because I am blinded by worry. Yes, we all have concerns and some of them are huge. But there are gifts waiting to be unwrapped wherever we are…if we have eyes to see.
As for me, I want to focus with laser-like intensity on one Person, just as the author of Hebrews admonishes us: “Let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the Author and Perfecter of our faith.” —Hebrews 12:1-2.
In the Greek, the word for fix means: “to turn the eyes away from other things and fix them on something else.” Or Someone else.
He guards my reputation and my future. I have nothing to fear.
By the way, here is a photo of the Bichon who inspired this post today and reminded me to focus on the right things. Buddy was a puppy here. That was seven years…and many pounds…ago. 🙂