ADJUSTING THE FOCUS

There is a time for inward focus, for serious spiritual house cleaning.

Just as dust comes in under the doors, mud gets tracked over the clean floors and cracks appear in the grout, so our souls become subtly soiled and our spiritual glue loosens. Without doubt, we need to do regular checkups.

Constant introspection, however, is destructive. It’s best just to ask the Holy Spirit what needs to be cleaned up.

He will faithfully show us, you can count on it. Then we can make our confession quickly and thoroughly, truly repent, and walk in the freedom from guilt that God has promised. (I John 1:9).

Continual inward focus creates a joy deficit and fosters depression. I know people who are so self-absorbed that they manage to apply every remark to themselves. Whatever is under discussion, they think, “How does this affect me, my health, my work, my reputation, my future, my happiness?” Everything revolves around the little world of themselves, and that’s depressing.

People who are chronically ill have reason to be self-absorbed, but even they have options. One great lady we know spent years in an iron lung, and finally died there. She was beautiful, full of laughter, and an inveterate pray-er. She was so spiritually powerful that people actually lined up on her porch waiting to get in so she could pray for them. Her daily focus was Jesus-oriented and people-oriented. She had bad days, but she was not a victim of depression.

Years ago, a young woman in our church was a casualty of the thalidomide drug that produced birth defects. She had no lower arms or legs. But she made use of what she had. She could grasp a little with the remaining muscles just below her elbows, so, while buttons were beyond her, she could type, slowly, and work at the church. She sang in the choir, (“Help me zip up this robe and I’m ready to go. . .”) Sweet, funny and extroverted, she made lots of friends.

When she received prosthetic legs, the whole church rejoiced. But the most remarkable thing was that she absolutely, joyfully, loved life. Why? Because she really knew Christ.

She told me, “I’m so glad my mother didn’t have me aborted. Otherwise, I’d never have been able to serve Jesus. Now I have eternal life. I’m really going to Heaven, Carol!” And she shared the joy.

God gave her a wonderful down-to-earth resource, too: her family. Her brothers loved her, picked on her, and expected her to do the impossible. Her mama made her do chores.

When she was small her parents took her to a special picnic where she saw a sign that read Event for Disabled Children. She said, “I wondered what we were doing there. Nobody had ever told me I was ‘disabled,’ so I never thought I was.”

Depression was not even on the horizon for this girl. Her focus was not on what she couldn’t do, but on what she could. But the real key was that she focused on God and on other people.

Then, of course, there is Joni Earekson Tada. She is paraplegic, but determined and outgoing. Making use of what she has—incredible talent and a glorious set of teeth—she has become a superb, world famous artist, with a smile in her heart and her focus on God and on others who need to know Him.

That’s the secret that can make the difference for us all. 

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