This past weekend I went hiking on a segment of the Appalachian Trail with some great men. The terrain was pretty tough…hilly and rocky…and took a great amount of concentration to focus on the obstacles on the ground so someone wouldn’t end up tripping and doing a face plant. So we glued our eyes to the terrain and walked down the trail, successfully navigating all the obstacles in our way. At the end of the hike, success…no broken ankles (just a few sore muscles for the old guys).
But was it really a success? Had we enjoyed the time and this event to the fullest? Let me go back to the story and put it in context. We walked the trail in mid-October, and the leaves were just beginning to turn brilliant shades of color. The sky was a beautiful blue. At this elevation, we could look out and see for miles the beautiful landscape and rolling hills. But, this was not what we were focusing on…it was the worn down, beaten up, rocky terrain that had our undivided attention. These obstacles in front of us took all of our energy and cost us the opportunity to see some much better scenery.
Many times in life, this turns out to be my scenario. I keep focusing on the ‘junk’ (all the stuff that will eventually burn or rot) right in front of me. My perspective is narrowed as all I see are the obstacles, or those things that have minor significance in the big scheme of life. Because, let’s face it, those are the things that can trip us up if we aren’t mindful of them…and there’s the difference: being mindful of them, but not letting them be the ultimate focal point.
Jesus Christ tells us that he has come not only to give us life, but to give us more of an abundant life (John 10:10). While ‘abundance’ means different things to different people, I think that Jesus’ perspective of abundance means a more satisfying and fuller life, which is not necessarily focused on monetary or material goals. He tells us that as Christians, our focus should be different (Colossians 3:2-3). It’s a given that we are here on Earth and must navigate around the junk here, we’ve got to focus on the right thing…this is what will give us the greatest amount of fulfillment/abundance.
Staying focused on the rocks in the trail is tiresome, boring, and ultimately defeating. Yes, while we must be aware of them and safely walk over/around them, we should not focus on them. What’s taking your attention away from the bigger picture…what God would have you focusing on? As my friend Dave relayed to me, all this junk on earth is not eternal…think about that. Is there anything that has you focusing all your attention on that which is not eternal? Give us your thoughts. Thanks for reading! — Andy