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Devotion: What you focus on grows

I don’t know about you, but I want to look back at my life and see that I have used my time and energy well. I want to be able to look back at my “energy meter” and know that I spent all of it by pouring myself out for others and sharing the light of Christ with those in my sphere of influence. On Sunday, in worship, we talked about stewarding our time and energy in such a way because we want to “live like we are dying.” And as I talked through this thought with my Spiritual Director on my Sabbath this week, she reminded me of the quote you see below.

Let me start by saying that I am the LAST person who should be giving advice about how plants grow and when my mom reads this she will chuckle, because she knows. Every orchid plant she has given me, every flower, even the succulents…I somehow manage to kill. I can’t keep plants alive and the fact that we have a growing lime tree, blueberry bush and banana tree in our backyard is only thanks to my husband who has the gift. I have however kept other important things alive, like my three healthy children and an 11 year-old dog…but plants stand no chance with me!

But for our purposes of this devotion, thankfully this saying is about more than just plants, it is about growing our focus. Expanding and Including new passions, people, and ideologies that help us reach our neighbors. We grow our focus in a number of ways, but today I invite you to think about the second part of this saying which reshapes the way we steward our time and turns it toward what we concentrate on. I challenge you to go back and read a few stories of Jesus and see if the Bible stories ever mention how long Jesus spent with people. For instance, if you make a pastoral appointment with me, I will usually mark an hour into my calendar, or maybe a little longer if food is involved. But Jesus never managed his time like we would today, with alerts when his healing sessions were running over or reminders to add in travel time as he and his disciples walked from one city to the next.

Jesus didn’t manage his time because he was being irresponsible, but because he was focused on something else. His focus was always so intent on loving, serving, healing, reconciling and teaching that time was spent differently. Now that is not to say that he had no boundaries and gave and gave and gave until he had nothing left…no, not at all. Jesus was self-aware enough to know when he was empty or tired or spent. Instead, it seems from the Gospel accounts that Jesus remained present and focused on the people he was directly in front of, not being pulled to the next appointment on his calendar.

This seems like a freeing way to be in relationship with one another even if this is countercultural to how we live out the rest of our lives. If we want to grow our faith and grow our relationships and grow our witness and grow the Kingdom, then I believe it starts with managing the focus of our time and energy instead of letting our time and energy manage us. For some of us, this might be easier because we don’t right now have kids and their schedule managing us, trust me, I know. Or maybe it isn’t kids or grandkids that take up a lot of your time but your job or caring for a loved one. Those schedules too are unpredictable and often draining. With whatever time and energy we do have, my challenge for all of us is to use the moments that we do have to optimize our own focused attention and move us into a space that strives for authentic relationship. Maybe it is listening before talking, or putting down your phone, or turning off the background noise or shaking up your routine because you aren’t afraid to be interrupted. Remember, what you focus on grows and I don’t know about you, but I want to look back and see that I focused my time and energy on things that have a lasting impact on God’s Kingdom.

If you don’t have any plans next Thursday, October 19th from 11am-1pm, I would love to talk over past devotions with you, hear your stories and encourage you in your faith journey. I will be on the Winter Park Campus in the Parlor, so just bring your own lunch and meet me there.