The Oasis - July 21, 2021

Author: Pastor Dan Hollis
July 21, 2021

July 21, 2021
by Pastor Dan

     What do you do when you need to focus? When there’s something you need to think long and hard about, or there’s something important you need to get done, and your mind just won’t settle. You’ve got all kinds of things stretching your attention in one way and another, and they won’t let you be grounded even for a second.
     Sometimes it’s important things. The bills, the job, an argument with a family member that’s been hanging over your heads for days, the car’s been making a noise that sounds pretty expensive, your friend is in the hospital, or there’s a law being proposed on the floor of some legislature that might end up completely upending your life.
     Aaaand sometimes it’s the not-so-important things.
Our minds can get so noisy—many times even more noisy than our lives. It becomes a chore and a challenge to quiet everything and narrow our consciousness to that one thing that needs it.
     I have my own tools that I try to use when the rubber hits the road and I’m not finding the focus (or the willpower) to meet the challenge. For me, the act of walking—letting the world pass around me—gives me something to set my energy too, leaving my mind finally unburdened. As long as it’s a route I know well and I don’t have to think about where I’m going, I find it settles my spirit.
     Conversely, when I’m sat down writing a sermon and my mind is running on three hundred different tracks, I often find myself putting on some rock music. Usually classic, or punk, or whatever genre you’d call Meat Loaf. I don’t know why it works, but maybe the part of my mind that gets distracted is so busy rocking out that it isn’t bothering the business-end of my brain anymore.
     My third tool—big surprise—is prayer. I think one of the benefits people of faith have is the belief that there is something bigger than us that can hold the things we can’t. When we find we’re spinning too many plates, or juggling too many flaming chainsaws, we have somewhere we can put the extras. God doesn’t mind holding our baggage for us for a while. In fact, God loves doing it! When we need to quiet our minds, when we need to focus, we can ask God take care of what’s keeping us so restless. To hold these concerns, these issues, these worries until we’re ready to hold them again. It’s a kind of trust that takes a lot of practice, but when we can trust that God won’t let our world fall apart for the few moments we aren’t watching it, it gives us the freedom to let go and be fully present to the singular need of the moment.
     So whatever it is you need to focus on this week, whatever it is life and gray matter are making difficult, know that you are not alone in the struggle. Know that there are so many tools out there that so many use every day, and that you aren’t helpless. And know that when you can’t juggle even one more chainsaw, God will be there to catch them.

“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith.”  Hebrews 12:1-2a

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