Luke 21:34 “Be careful, or your hearts will be weighed down with carousing, drunkenness and the anxieties of life, and that day will close on you suddenly like a trap.
Aligning our thoughts with God
In the Zone: So focused, confident, sure, content, certain, comfortable, and at peace.
Basketball story of faith
There are some days when playing basketball I would just be in the zone. It didn’t seem to matter from where I was shooting the ball, it just went into the basket. Everything felt right in my heart, body, and mind. There wasn’t any fear, frustration, or worry. I knew before I shot the ball it was going to be in the basket. There was an ease and comfort with full confidence. I knew the guy guarding me didn't have a chance and as more shots were made he started to believe as well. This is a very special feeling and experience. I can imagine Abraham feeling the same way when he was willing to sacrifice his son. Abraham just knew if God was behind it, then it was good.
Focusing on problems: Worried, confused, uncertain, distracted, frustrated, ashamed, embarrassed, disbelief, uncomfortable, conflicted, and negative.
Then there were days when everything would go wrong. I would be unmotivated, unfocused, disinterested, and uncommitted. During the game I would know before I shot the basketball that it would fail. On days like these I would just pass the ball, maybe drive in and try to draw the defense or attempt a simple lay up and fail at that as well. My mind would be distressed and focused on the problem leading to stress and anger. I was in error mentally and emotionally. This mental error occurred before I even got onto the basketball court. My mind and heart were not right. My attitude was negative. My basketball success was dependent upon how my thoughts are arranged. Worry, anger, selfishness, & fear are destructive in many ways.
The God Zone: We can become fully reliant upon the Holy Spirit of God listening with complete attention and connection.
We ought to seek, follow, and obey God's will.
Imagine using a string telephone in a crowded room. As you hold the cup to your ear you tell the crowd to get quiet so you can hear what the person is saying on the other end. Being connected to the Holy Spirit is like that, but the crowd in this case are our own thoughts which distract us from hearing the spirit. Holding the cup next to our ear and listening closely to the Holy Spirit's guidance can lead us to God’s grace; love, mercy, peace, forgiveness, truth, justice, generosity, compassion, and righteousness. The more we are in tune with these characteristics, the more we can be in the God Zone. Living with God is maintaining a steady focus upon this activity within our heart and mind which requires frequent redirection of our distracting thoughts.
Imagine walking a tight rope and being half way between two trees. Where are you going to set your focus? Is it going to be on your friends or the ground? The best focus would be where you need to place your next step and where to shift the body to keep balance. Similarly as we are building our relationship with God we need to keep our focus steadily upon God and God’s character.
2 Corinthians 10:5 casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ,
How do we live with error and problems?
Maintaining our focus with God’s character does not mean we ignore problems or threats, we just don’t let such issues interfere with our reliance upon our participation with God’s righteousness. Otherwise we will shift our thoughts into fear, worry, frustration, anger, and destruction. We deal with problems and threats as they come with diligence, responsibility, effort, faith, confidence, love, endurance, perseverance, and peace. We will make mistakes and feel discomfort. We can become conflicted and fail, but always we will have the choice to reset our thoughts toward God, refocus on the direction we need to go, and place our next step onto righteous activity. Each step we take with God’s character can create a little more connection with the Holy Spirit. Problems, difficulties, and struggles are opportunities to practice God's character and build God's kingdom.
Sin is error so why focus on it? Instead, focus on the solution... God.
There are so many groups created to help people fix their problems and addictions. Many times groups can get caught up in focusing on the problems. The 12 step programs have steps designed to own the problem, confess it, and humbly ask God to remove their defects of character. Many of the steps can focus more on the removal of the problem and less on the acquisition of the solution... God.
One step less talked about in many Groups, step 11, does focus specifically upon building a connection with God and learning to do God's will. Yet too often those in recovery spend many years with sin management or management of character defects, rarely seeking to fulfill step 11. We ought to focus on the solution which involves serenity, truth, love, and peace. Acceptance, prayer, service, humility, and generosity are solutions in the 12 step arena. Honesty, integrity, self-discipline, and courage are some of the principles. If we keep thinking about our sin, perhaps prayer toward Godly character might be helpful, but then we have to look at that character and get the words into our brain in order for that to happen. Out of sight... out of mind. If we do not seek God we probably will not find God.
Imagine holding a pencil and handing it to someone. You say, "here, you can have this." Then that person grabs it and pulls on it, but for some reason it stays in your hand. Your grip remains on the pencil as if to keep it. You say you want to give it away, but your actions continue to hold it. It doesn't get removed until we physically and mentally act in the process of letting it go. If we keep thinking about the sin we will be more likely to hold onto it. Instead, we ought to think about loosening our grip of it, being without it, and pursuing something righteous, good, true, loving, and helpful to God. It all begins where we choose to set our thinking.