Sunday, May 10, 2009

Our Sole Focus – Without it, a “Slow Fade”

The Casting Crowns song Slow Fade is remarkably translucent; the first time I heard it recently left me with a haunting feeling that God had spoken it straight to my heart--indeed, as a message to all his loved ones--a reminder how easily our focus in life shifts ‘south.’

It starts:

Be careful little eyes what you see
It’s the second glance that ties your hands as darkness pulls the strings
Be careful little feet where you go
For it’s the little feet behind you that are sure to follow
This song is about distractions and compromise--and there are a plethora of them in life, taking our focus off wherever it should be in applying God’s will for our individual lives.

There is a time in the psalmist’s life when influences around him tend to knock him off balance, yet he resolutely hungers after God’s virtue:

“There’s smoke in my eyes--they burn and water, but I keep a steady gaze on the instructions you post” –Psalm 119:83 (Msg).

I wonder if the world has the affect of being that ‘smoke’ on us. In this way we’re tainted in the smoke of life. All sorts of overtly negative and caustic influences can be easy to detect and avoid, but there’s the gradual, covert ‘smoky’ influences that gradually--year after year--swing us away from our devotion toward God. We see this markedly in others, but not often within ourselves.

A conscience for the things of God is hence a remarkable blessing.

The letter to the Hebrews was written to warn, chide and motivate the backslider or those considering going back to old, disobedient ways. In that letter we’re told we must keep our eyes fixed on Jesus, the Author and Perfector of our faith (Hebrews 12:2).

But, we don’t often see ourselves as disobedient for little transgressions, though we ought to--not to feel guilty and self-condemn, but as impetus to rejecting the lower moral standard we’re tempted to let infiltrate us.

Without a deliberate focus on the right way, we’re too easily swayed to the wrong way. Like an ancient wineskin[1] left outside near the fire too long, we become dry and cracked, beyond awareness of how far we’ve strayed and beyond effective use in God’s plan for our lives. We are like diluted acid, not as potently corrosive. Our salt has lost its saltiness (Matthew 5:13).

And the last line of the featured Slow Fade verse above reminds us of another key reason to steadily remain in God; there are others watching us, others who look up to us. What sort of leadership example are we providing? If we’re not careful our irresponsibly-discharged leadership will be taken from us, and it should be if we can’t lead skilfully and faithfully.

The race of our lives is long, and in Paul’s words, we need to run it consistently for God right until the finish--our last day. We can only do this when God’s Word is internalised daily and we remain in momentary contact with his will.

A disciplined mind, a soft heart and a healthy conscience require constant nurture.

Copyright © 2009, S. J. Wickham. All Rights Reserved Worldwide.

[1] Referring to the ‘wineskin’ analogy, the Amplified Bible has this Psalm 119:83: “For I have become like a bottle [a wineskin blackened and shriveled] in the smoke [in which it hangs], yet do I not forget Your statutes.”

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