Focus

I am currently working on Beth Moore’s Stepping Up: A Journey Through the Psalms of Ascent bible study. This study is already ministering a lot to my heart even though I am only in week two.

I want to share some of what has encouraged me. From the Holman Christian Standard Bible, Psalm 123 reads as follows:

Looking for God’s Favor
A song of ascents.

1 I lift my eyes to You,
the One enthroned in heaven.

2 Like a servant’s eyes on His master’s hand,
like a servant girl’s eyes on her mistress’s hand,
so our eyes are on the LORD our God
until He shows us favor.

3 Show us favor, LORD, show us favor,
for we’ve had more than enough contempt.

4 We’ve had more than enough
scorn from the arrogant
[and] contempt from the proud.

This psalm encouraged and challenged me.
First, can you relate (as I can) to the statement of the psalmist, “We’ve had more than enough contempt. We’ve had more than enough scorn from the arrogant and contempt from the proud.”

When I was heavy, I felt this all the time. I felt the contempt of men, children, and even women. I was treated differently than I am now. Sure, some might say that it was all in my mind, but whether it was or not, I *felt* it. I felt like I was treated differently because of being overweight — obese.

I will never forget being late for a connecting flight once…it was a small little “puddle jumper” from one airport to another about an hour away. As I climbed aboard (I mean this was a SMALL plane with only two seats on one side and one on the other), I felt the eyes of all looking at me like: “Now the plane will surely list to one side. Put her on the side with only one seat! She will balance out the side with two!” There was one man in particular, whose scrutinizing gaze reduced me to nothing. Why I gave him that power is beyond me. The memory is still with me (obviously).

I have had enough of that sort of contempt.

Even as I was reminded of this, I was encouraged by the words of the psalm. In those moments when I feel like the target of assaults–from the enemy, from strangers, from people I love and know…on what will I choose to focus my attention? What will I invite to fill my vision?

Right now, with all that confronts you, confronts me, with all the demands made of us, to what are we looking? Upon what am I choosing to focus? Is it the trial? Is it the circumstance? Is it the person and the way I feel wounded by them? Or is it how little food I get to eat if I really want to release weight–or keep the weight off? Am I focused on the things that bother me? Do I make provision for my flesh by choosing to fill my gaze with things that will cultivate discontentment and resentment?

This psalm has an answer to a question that I may not even know I am asking.

Who is it that is over all? Who is in charge? Who is truly on the throne? My YHWH, LORD, God Almighty, I AM is in heaven. He is on the throne. As the song goes, He is God alone. In verse one, the psalmist declares “I lift my eyes to YOU…” His gaze had to be lifted from what was facing him, the contempt being shown him, the circumstances that overwhelmed him. But the one choosing to do the lifting, the shifting of the gaze is him. I must choose to do the same.

I have a choice. I can choose to focus on what it is that has my shorts in a bunch, the insults, the contempt, the trial, the person blocking my goal or disappointing me somehow, or I can LIFT my eyes and look to God. As I focus on HIM, all the other things fade in significance. This is a principle that is so true and it has been revolutionary for me personally as I have walked this path. It is very much related to humility and to gratitude. If I insist on being the focus of my life, or if I insist on focusing on all the things I am bothered by in my life, it will change everything how I perceive what comes next, or seems to.

Beth Moore points out in the lesson on this psalm that:
Where I look affects—->

What I hear, which affects—->
What I feel, which affects—->
What I expect…
I would add that what I expect then affects what I experience.

No, I don’t believe in the “power of positive thinking,” but I do believe that what I expect affects where I look in the next moment…and paints it accordingly. What I expect affects what I experience, which, unless I stop the cycle, will affect where I look and what I hear…and so on. It is a cycle!

I want to break this cycle. I don’t want to focus on “my problems” and perpetuate a bad attitude which seems to perpetuate trials, which perpetuates my fixating on the trials and on and on. I will break the cycle by choosing to focus on the LORD who is ON THE THRONE. He IS sovereign. He IS good. He IS sufficient. He IS loving. He IS gracious…
When I choose to foster gratitude and praise the Lord, I am doing this. I am breaking the cycle. I am choosing where I look, which affects what I hear, which affects how I feel (WHOO HOO! When I think on, look to and praise the Lord, my feelings change!), which affects what I expect and what I experience! WHOO HOO!

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Thin Within

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