At a recent luncheon, I asked a simple question: How can I pray for you?
I received four answers: focus, wisdom, grace and patience. Out of that, one word stuck in my mind. It was the answer from a young gal soon to leave her teen years behind and enter adulthood. Her one-word answer to how can I pray for you was “focus.” I have been pondering that since our interaction and I think the answer is found in the first chapter of Peter as he counsels the early believers facing the trials of life. He says, as you walk through life, you truly need to “focus.” But focus on what? And how to focus?
Here’s an illustration as to what I think Peter is saying (take it for what it is worth). Suppose you are asked, “Would you like to dance?”
You respond with an affirmative.
Having danced before, you realize that only one can lead and the other must follow. If the follower seeks to lead, the feet become intertwined and the steps are off. Facing life and trials are like a dance. On the mission field in person or as an online user, you will face these trials of life. You must choose to “focus” on following God and allow Him to lead so that your dance steps will be in tune. But, if we step aside and say we want to lead, then the steps are not led by God Almighty but us. Therein lay the advice of James to the dance of life which includes trials of all kinds. James tells us that when in a trial focus on this: “count it all joy.” Incredulously we wonder if he is living in la-la land! How can we focus on joy when we are in a trial? We are exhausted, drained and our light seems to be under the bushel not out for the world to see. Can you relate? Beloved, it is all about focusing. James knew that through this dance of trials God produces endurance or steadfastness and a perfect dance with Him. The answer to this paradox is found from the wisdom of Peter. He captures the secret behind that statement having walked with Jesus for three years, denied him three times and then being asked three times “do you love me?” He has in his quiver or written on his dance card the wisdom that comes from facing many trials.
Peter is saying to these early believers—and to you and me—when you are faced with the trials of life; whether in interpersonal relationships, in your job, as a face to face missionary or as an online missionary, you must “focus” on God as your dance partner. “Focus” on God’s protection. “Focus” on the fact that your dance of faith is seen by the angels of heaven and the world watches and they marvel. “Focus” on what you do have; a new dance partner who was raised from the dead giving you a re-birth into a living hope. “Focus” on what you read on your dance card; an inheritance which is imperishable and undefiled and will not fade away; not as the many trinkets we gather which turn to rust and decay.
And that, in a nutshell, is how you “focus.” Read through 1 Peter 1 because it is here that you learn how to dance through the trials of life with God leading and you following. Peter teaches us what he and James have learned: “Focus” on the word JOY…Jesus first, Others second, Yourself last.
G.U.I.D.A.N.C.E = God U & I Dance! You lead and I follow!