Focus on Each Day
One of the side effects of living in a super-charged culture is we can be tempted in a greater way to forget to focus on each day. Undoubtedly, this temptation is always there for humanity, but it is more so in the highly-politicized culture in which we live as Americans and in the West more broadly. Planning for the future is a commendable undertaking and something I in no way want to discourage. The Scripture says, “Deceit is in the heart of those who devise evil, but those who plan peace have joy (Proverbs 12:20).” Those who righteously follow the paths of God should plan peace. However, in our moments of weakness, we are ever so tempted to dwell on the uncertainties of the future rather than live in the depths of the moment in which we currently reside.
Christ portrayed an interesting focus on daily life. Two examples stand out when considering
this particular subject. As part of the Lord’s Prayer Christ said, “Give us this day our daily bread (Matthew 6:11).” Notice how the focus in the prayer is upon daily bread? Of course, this does not rule out long-term planning, but Christ certainly is placing emphasis upon the short-term focus upon each day. The Lord also said, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me (Luke 9:23).” Once again the Lord places a focus upon daily life. It is the duty of the disciple of Christ to lay down their life every day. They are to give up their desires each day and live for the sake of their Lord. What we see in these passages is a detailed focus upon every single day. We pray to God for our daily provisions and we are to arise each day and die to ourselves and live for Christ.
Applying This Concept
When considering this entire truth of daily focus, we must begin to ascertain how we can live out this command of Scripture. How do we as Christians go through our lives with a focus upon each day in a culture which drives us to focus on everything but what is set before us today? It is all too easy for us to drift off into thinking about where the country will be in 10-years. We can lose focus on our current job duties by pondering where we want to be in our vocational status at the end of our career. Once again, it is in a way healthy to think about long-term planning and career goals. However, we must try to balance these two together. On the one hand, we live in a society where social media constantly tries to distract us from what actually matters. We can become so focused on looking at the newest trend on Twitter that we forget to actually live our lives! At the same time, we can become engrossed in thinking about the distant future to the point that we forget to live in the moment. What we need is the ability to avoid the ditch on either side of the road and stay on the path which God has for us to follow.
We find some help in the life of the Apostle Paul. At the end of the book of Romans, Paul mentions his plans for going to Spain (see Romans 15:24,28). However, at the present moment, he needed to go to Jerusalem to bring aid to the saints by bringing the poor among them gifts from Macedonia and Achaia (Romans 15:25-26). So, we see in this text that Paul made plans for the future, but was focused on fulfilling his duty in the present. Thus, it is legitimate to draw out a couple of points which can help us in this realm. Firstly, we should make long-term plans, but we should not allow an unhealthy focus upon agendas to interfere with what Christ has set before us in the moment. Paul wanted to go to Spain, yet he was focused on helping the saints in Jerusalem. He knew his long-term plan, but was locked in on his duties in the present moment.
A second component we can see in this passage is the need to actually focus on priorities. As I said earlier, we live in a society with a double-edged sword. On one end, many fall into the trap of worrying about the future. At the other end of the blade, many succumb to the danger of focusing on aspects that they see through social media in the “hot moment” of a new fad. Many would rather watch someone live life through the lens of a digital platform than actually live one themselves. Paul knew what he needed to accomplish and he set his mind on the goal. Christ said we are to die daily which means we should be focused on doing His will each moment and each day. As a blogger, I could make the mistake of being so absorbed with future plans for my site that I never write anything. Then again, I could err and scroll through my social media thread and never make any progress on writing. What I need to do is use social media responsibly, spend some time planning for future posts, but lock in on writing this particular post. The key is to focus on the truth of what matters in daily life instead of distractions that matter nothing in the end.
In conclusion, let me urge you to see the brilliance of everyday life. Do not fall prey to the temptations around you to do everything except what is before you this day. Plan for the future, focus your mind on the present and joyfully go about the things which Christ has for you every single day of your life. Get up each morning and focus on dying to your own desires and instead live for Christ. I shall leave the final word to C.S. Lewis from his essays in The Weight of Glory:
The first enemy is excitement — the tendency to think and feel about the war when we had intended to think about our work. The best defence is a recognition that in this, as in everything else, the war has not really raised up a new enemy but only aggravated an old one. There are always plenty of rivals to our work. We are always falling in love or quarrelling, looking for jobs or fearing to lose them, getting ill and recovering, following public affairs. If we let ourselves, we shall always be waiting for some distraction or other to end before we can really get down to our work.The only people who achieve much are those who want knowledge so badly that they seek it while the conditions are still unfavourable. Favourable conditions never come. There are, of course, moments when the pressure of the excitement is so great that only superhuman self-control could resist it. They come both in war and peace. We must do the best we can…
You would be surprised if you knew how soon one begins to feel the shortness of the tether, of how many things, even in middle life, we have to say “No time for that,” “Too late now,” and “Not for me.” But Nature herself forbids you to share that experience. A more Christian attitude, which can be attained at any age, is that of leaving futurity in God’s hands. We may as well, for God will certainly retain it whether we leave it to Him or not. Never, in peace or war, commit your virtue or your happiness to the future. Happy work is best done by the man who takes his long-term plans somewhat lightly and works from moment to moment “as to the Lord.” It is only our daily bread that we are encouraged to ask for. The present is the only time in which any duty can be done or any grace received. -C.S. Lewis