“Do not let your hearts be troubled. Believe in God, believe also in me.” — John 14:1
Several years ago I spent every Monday night at a coffee shop with a group of folks from my church. We spent the year reading through Father James Martin’s book “Jesus: A Pilgrimage.” The book is Martin’s reflection on his trip to the Holy Land. Each chapter centers on a Holy Land site with the corresponding scriptural story. It is one of my favorite books.
Early in the study, I had a particularly bad Monday. I remember vividly by mid-afternoon just wanting to go home. By the end of the day, everything irritated me. I was grouchy. I had run out of energy and knew it was going to take a feat of strength to lead Bible study that evening. I honestly just wanted to skip it and go to bed. As I drove to the coffee shop, I realized I needed an attitude adjustment – quickly! I didn’t want to subject my bad attitude to this lovely group of people.
We gathered, and we talked, and we prayed. By the end of the hour, something had happened to me. My bad mood and my irritation were gone! None of the events of the day had changed. In fact, the situations which left me in a bad mood were still very real. The change: my focus. Spending an hour with Jesus completely shifted my perspective. Getting to be with people who also love Jesus and love to talk about Jesus, recentered me.
There are many things which vie for our attention: anxiety and anger. Fear and fighting. Preoccupation and politics. Work and world. It is easy to allow these things to pull us away from Jesus.
There were many things vying for the disciple’s attention. The scripture above is from Jesus’ final evening with his friends. He shares these words after their last meal, and after he washed their feet. It is a part of how he was preparing them for the most distracting, anxiety inducing, unsettling event of their lives.
“Don’t let your hearts be troubled. Believe in God, believe also in me…”
What pulls your attention away from Jesus? What will help you shift your focus back to Jesus? Is it talking with a friend? Joining a Bible study? Praying? Walking? Writing? Creating music? Something else?
When we keep our attention turned to face Jesus, something incredible begins to happen. The world shifts in such a way it may feel disorienting. When time, money, energy, and attitudes have been pointed toward the unimportant and unfulfilling for so long, it can take time to adjust to the face of Jesus. As the adjustment is made, the amazing begins to shine.
Our cloudy and distorted vision becomes clearer. The people Jesus loves become the people we love. Those who live a life unseen and pushed to the margins, come to the center and fully visible. Worldly distractions like money and possessions are less distracting because they are no longer important. Whole, healing, healthy relationships come to the center. Lives are transformed because we choose to love and forgive as we’ve been loved and forgiven by God.
The stunningly vibrant abundance of God becomes visible everywhere: in the breath of the wind, the dance of the squirrels, the colors in the sky. It is felt in the hug of a friend, the smile of a stranger, and the compassion of the community. We cannot escape the signs of God’s abundance because it is simply inescapable.
Jesus is our way, our truth, and our life. Our lives are better, more balanced, filled with peace, gracious, and fulfilling when we keep Jesus at the center.
May you find your focus today. May you trust in the one who promises he is the way and guides you. May your vision be clear to see the abundant love of God all around, for it is simply inescapable.