Focus Matters: Choosing Light Over Darkness

I once read a devotional by author and speaker Max Lucado in which he instructed his readers to pull out a piece of clean white paper. He then asked them to place a black dot somewhere on that paper.  Interestingly, even though there is an entire sheet of paper to look at, most people will zero in on that one dark speck.

Isn’t that so true of life in general? We can get so focused on the negatives – those dark spots in life – that we miss out on the blessings that may be all around us.

It’s easy to do, isn’t it? Negativity seems to be the norm.

When we read or watch the news we are instantly bombarded by stories that highlight everything that is terribly wrong in this world: war, crime, abuse, racism, poverty, corruption, terrorism.  The depressing list could go on and on.

Perhaps we wander into the online comment section linked to an article that has captured our attention. But by doing so, we have inadvertently entered into a name calling, mud-slinging, internet brawl.  The level of disrespect for one’s fellow man or woman is astonishing at times.

Even logging onto our social media platforms can be an emotional minefield.

The desire to “connect” through the cyber spaces we’ve created often leaves us feeling less connected than ever. Political memes scream opposing viewpoints that are often far from cordial and leave a bad taste in our mouths. The carefully selected pictures and proclamations of success by friends and acquaintances alike, can lead us to feel that we are missing out or that we can’t compete.   Suddenly we are very aware of our own LESS than perfect situations.

Sadly, we don’t have to gaze at a television set or computer screen for those dark cloud moments to overshadow our hearts and minds.

I don’t have to look beyond my own household and personal circumstances to be overwhelmed by the frustrations of life. Unexpected bills add to an already tight budget.  The never-ending list of things to do in a home that I can never seem to keep clean, wears on my nerves.  News that a loved one is struggling with health issues, reveals just how fragile and uncertain life can be.  And my children’s incessant fighting with each other, and sassy attitudes, often sends my temper soaring over the moon.

These may seem like minor issues in the grand scheme of things. Yet if given enough time, energy, and focus, even the littlest concerns of life can start to feel enormous.  They rob us of our joy and peace, and make us feel as if we are being sucked into a big black hole of YUCK.

It’s SO easy to focus in on the dark spots in life, isn’t it?

The problem is, when we are fixated on that darkness, we tend to miss out on the LIGHT.

Tragically, we can become oblivious to the beautiful, radiant, life-giving light that is all around us. We can forget that there IS hope and there are SO MANY BLESSINGS to be found. We just have to choose to look for them!

I don’t want to deny or diminish the fact that hard things happen in life. But there is SO MUCH MORE to the story, than those dark spots.

There is God’s story!  His love and sacrifice for us knows NO BOUNDS.

Yes, there was the cross. But then, the empty tomb!  Death gave way to life!  Darkness surrendered to the LIGHT!

And we have a choice.

What will we choose to focus our attention on today?

 “Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable–if anything is excellent or praiseworthy–think about such things.” Philippians 4:8

“Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.” Colossians 2:3-5

“Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.”  1 Thessalonians 5:18

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