This eFOCUS is given primarily to subjects that focus on the holiday season. I think you’ll be inspired and encouraged by the work that’s gone forth. Being from NASCAR country, I had to write something about driving…it’s just in my blood. Have a great season of Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Years!
We are heading into a seven week season that begins with eating turkey and giving thanks and ends with the beginning of a new year. It is filled with a variety of celebrations, gift-giving, time off, football games, special foods, decorations, family gatherings, shopping and lots of special foods (did I say that already?). Can you tell that I am eagerly awaiting the special holiday food part?
It becomes a time of refocusing as we wind down the present year of activities, goals and plans while beginning to think about a new year of opportunities. It’s an important time to reflect on the past, celebrate the present and anticipate the future.
Life is lived out a little like driving a car. We have a rear view mirror to give us the ability to see behind us (where we’ve been or what’s following us), the side windows and sun-roof allow us to see where we’re at, while the front windshield (equipped to keep the rain at bay) is designed to give us maximum views of what’s ahead!
God’s Word is filled with references to our past, present and future. How you view those and how they affect the current way you live, plan, relate and think is extremely critical.
For instance, looking too often or too long in the rearview mirror—or even glancing off to the side—can put us in real danger of not noticing what is in front of us. My wife Debbie, has saved me from many rear-end collisions because she is rightly monitoring what is ahead when I’m looking at everything else (thanks, honey…though my hearing has suffered on a couple of occasions when you didn’t have time to gently warn me!)
On the other hand, never reflecting or observing what is around us can create a one-track view of life, such that we don’t have an accurate or complete picture of our surroundings. Living in these tensions are often challenging but when you hear a siren, aren’t you glad for the ability to check behind, beside and in front of you to make the necessary movements for the emergency vehicle? Paying attention to your surroundings will also alert you to recalibrate whether you’re on the right road or even traveling in the right direction.
During the coming holiday season, may I recommend as you reflect concerning your past, that if there is anything that still brings guilt, pain, hurt or disappointment…bring it to the Lord with full confidence that He wants to give you freedom from carrying it into your future. “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light” (Matthew 11:28-29, NIV).
As you navigate your present set of scenarios, may I encourage you to be acutely aware of the spiritual dynamics around you. The voice of God and the traps of the enemy are two things that we need to pay close attention to. Living with discernment and clear thinking (not entangled by life’s worry, fear or sin) will allow you a successful journey.
You can either feel like you are treading water, or you can sense that there’s a clear purpose and path that you are on that will please the Lord and yield godly fruit!
Finally, looking ahead toward the future can be filled with hope of what the Lord has planned that will bring about the expansion of His kingdom and your partnership in His plan. Thinking about the future can be fun and frustrating. Leaving my neighborhood, listening to Chris Tomlin bring down the house with worship can be exhilarating until I hit the 14 Freeway and see all of those red lights from the cars backed up! However, plowing through it allows me to get to my destination!
The writer of Hebrews sums it all up: “Let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles (past) and let us run with perseverance (present) the race marked out for us. Let us fix (future) our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith.” (Hebrews 12: 1-2, NIV).
The bottom line is that you will find yourself regularly in the driver’s seat! You will have the steering wheel in front of you and God as the navigator. The choices are many! Sometimes you will be backing up (pray that the electronic beepers are active when you are about to hit something). At other times you will need to navigate a curve, pay attention to the speed limit and the road signs. Most of the time you will also have to keep an eye on the drivers around you; you may be paying attention, but they might not be. Some will ride your bumper, others will go too slow, but driving successfully on the highway will keep your insurance payments low, your driver’s license intact and keep you and others in your vehicle safe! You should only practice drafting and passing on the apron when you are at the Richard Petty NASCAR Driving School.
I would like to invite you to view the next seven weeks in a continuum of prayer and reflection that will bring greater balance to your life, make your journey much more profitable and create a sense of confidence that where you have been, where you are and where you are about to go will all meld into God’s ultimate shaping of your life and ministry. Like the potter in Jeremiah, He can take that which is marred, reshape it and mold into a vessel of honor! Don’t delay! Come to the potter’s wheel and fully anticipate that “He who has begun a good work will continue it!”
Blessings on a great and reflective holiday season! May you find cheap gas, smooth roads and always purchase a car with a navigation system (for the times the Lord is silent!).