Slowly, I began to close my eyes as I drifted off to sleep. Even though I was in church and people were probably staring at me, I just couldn’t stay awake. Sleep was just too tempting.
As much as I hate to feel tired, I also hate that I can’t seem to focus during the sermon on Sunday mornings. Or during prayer, worship, or Bible reading.
My lack of focus is sometimes due to a lack of sleep, but most of the time, I can’t focus simply because I’m thinking about something entirely different.
At church, I think about where we’re going to eat lunch after the service. As I read my Bible, I worry about my new job that’s starting soon. When I sing praise songs, I stare at the girl leading worship and wonder if she’s prettier than me. During prayer, I think about my blog stats and how to get more “likes” on my posts.
I know my thought life is a mess. I know I should be focusing more on God—not increasing my blog stats, toning my body, or getting a boyfriend. Why can’t I simply think about the sermon I’m hearing, the verses I’m reading, the songs I’m singing, or the words I’m praying?
What’s Trying to Get Your Attention?
It’s so easy to lose our focus because of the many distractions in life. Everything and anything can demand our attention, but these are a few of the main things trying to get our attention:
- Our smartphones
Of course, our smartphones are always buzzing and ringing. Every time I get a notification, I can’t help but shift my focus to my phone. Perhaps you’ve asked yourself some of these questions: Who’s trying to get a hold of me? Why didn’t she text me back sooner? When did he email me? Why did I get this call?
- Our relationships (or lack of relationships)
These also demand our attention and thus our thoughts. Since our families, friendships, and marriages are part of our everyday lives, it’s natural to think about these relationships. Maybe these questions sound familiar: When will I get married? Why won’t my kids get their act together? How is my sibling going to overcome this issue? Where will I meet new friends?
- Our struggles
We can’t help but think about our circumstances, and often, our circumstances involve tragedy and suffering. Even though I know I shouldn’t “let my heart be troubled,” as Jesus commanded in John 14:27, I do allow my heart to be troubled. Some of these worries may have entered your mind: How am I going to get past this? When will this be over? Will God really help me get through this? Why is this happening to me?
Fixing Our Eyes on Jesus
The problem with focusing on our smartphones, relationships, struggles, or anything else is that we take our eyes off Jesus. Instead of making Him our first thought and our last thought, we think about Him when it’s easy or convenient. We may ponder a Scripture verse when we’re bored or concentrate on a worship song’s lyrics if nothing else interests us.
But that’s not how we’re called to live—or think.
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. For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. (Colossians 3:1-3 NASB)
Friends, we have a choice: we can either focus on heavenly things or earthly things. What if we decided to set our minds on God instead of ourselves? What if we attempted to change the direction of our thoughts?
We won’t just “happen” to think about heavenly things. It requires a conscious choice. But there are so many heavenly things we can think about: who God is, how God has worked in our lives, how we desire God to work, what God has promised us…the list goes on.
Yes, it’s incredibly easy to focus on our smartphones, our relationships, and our struggles. Transforming our thoughts requires time, effort, and the Holy Spirit’s working. But having a mind fixed on Jesus is worth it.