How important is focus? Last week’s post talked about setting goals (if you missed it, click here). But we are all surrounded with good ideas and opportunities to help others and fun places to experience.
Even if we took the time to pray and only write down what we believe God wants us to do this year, how closely do we really need to stick to it?
Many of you are familiar with Mary, Martha, and Lazarus from the Bible. They were friends of Jesus, and, as they lived in Bethany on the southeast slope of the Mount of Olives, He stayed in their home when He visited Jerusalem.
John 11 relates the story of Jesus raising Lazarus from the dead.
Jesus, once more deeply moved, came to the tomb. It was a cave with a stone laid across the entrance. “Take away the stone,” he said.
“But, Lord,” said Martha, the sister of the dead man, “by this time there is a bad odor, for he has been there four days.”
Then Jesus said, “Did I not tell you that if you believe, you will see the glory of God?”
So they took away the stone. Then Jesus looked up and said, “Father, I thank you that you have heard me. I knew that you always hear me, but I said this for the benefit of the people standing here, that they may believe that you sent me.”
When he had said this, Jesus called in a loud voice, “Lazarus, come out!” The dead man came out, his hands and feet wrapped with strips of linen, and a cloth around his face.
Jesus said to them, “Take off the grave clothes and let him go.” (verses 38-44)
Assignment. Not good opportunities.
This passage is rich with important themes, from depth of belief in Christ to the different reactions of the two sisters. But something that is frequently overlooked is how many people Jesus raised from the dead: one.
In case you don’t know the geography of the area, the Mount of Olives includes a Jewish cemetery. Tombs date back to the first Temple of the Old Testament and number in the thousands—70,000 according to Wikipedia.
And yet Jesus just raised one man. Out of thousands.
- Do you really think that Lazarus was the only one to have died recently?
- Do you really think that he was the only one to have family that needed him alive?
- That he was the only one people missed?
But God in His great wisdom wanted to use Lazarus to showcase His glory so that others would believe (John 11:40, 15). Lazarus, alone.
It was the assignment God gave to Jesus, and it was the task that Jesus completed. Not because others didn’t have a need, but because that’s what God asked of Him.
Time after time, Jesus didn’t focus on the need around Him. He didn’t look to the good ideas or interesting opportunities.
He focused on the assignment God gave to Him.
Finding God’s assignment for you
I know that means that you have to know what God is asking of you, and sometimes that’s not particularly easy to discern. Sometimes it feels like tossing a dart in the wind at a board 300 yards away in near total darkness.
But if you ask, seek, and obey, God will guide you.
- Read the Bible.
- Pray, including taking the time to be still and listen.
- Listen to spiritual mentors and mature Christians.
- Consider what He’s already prepared you for and what opportunities are around you.
Strive for focus. Just like Jesus.