(This post originally appeared on The Huffington Post on November 11, 2016.)
It happens: we’ve started a task, we’re a few moments in, and then another idea flashes across our minds. For me, that other idea is usually something I need to add to my to-do list. And for me, the task I’d started, quite frequently, is my daily devotional journaling with God.
Let’s be honest. First, I use the word “daily” loosely. I have a daily desire, but the actual execution on a day-to-day basis is…well, not so daily. (I do however talk to God — all day, everyday — so there’s that. But I digress…)
God frequently speaks to me through song. I’ll wake up and He will have me singing or humming a song through the Holy Spirit. I always enjoy that, a sweet reminder that He was with me all night and was downloading His truths and will for me and answering my prayers.
One particular morning I awakened to the tune of Lauren Daigle’s “First” emanating from my Spirit.
I meditated on that song for a few minutes. I felt in it an excitement of knowing that it was God telling me He wanted to spend time with me first thing that morning. And it was a little reminder of loving correction: I should seek and desire and want God more than anything, and that want should be of His presence, not his presents.
I was in a peaceful, joyful place. And then it struck. That errant thought that completely draws you out of intimacy with your Father for a fleeting moment.
It was a to-do item. Something I “had” to remember to do today.
I was irritated, bothered. Why’d my brain have to tell me this now?!
Then the Holy Spirit placed John 10:10 NLT into my remembrance: “The thief’s purpose is to steal and kill and destroy. My purpose is to give them a rich and satisfying life.”
Almost immediately, the Holy Spirit had me circle “stea”l and then He said, “Your focus.”
So many times I’d read that verse, heard it growing up, and always thought of things being stolen. As I marveled at this revelation, God kept talking.
“The thief can also steal your faith, peace, love, and joy, if you let him. He can kill your dreams, intentions, and hope, if you let him. He can destroy your destiny, your future, and your expectation, if you let him.”
I went on to read that very verse in two more translations, The Message and the Amplified versions. And I began to notice that the “rich and satisfying life” part became “abundance” once I reached the Amplified version. I was led to learn more about the term “abundance”.
According to the Blue Letter Bible, “abundance” is a Greek adjective that reads “perissos” in its original form. But the definitions are what got me:
- Exceeding some number or measure or rank or need
- Over and above, more than is necessary, superadded
- Exceedingly abundantly, supremely
- Something further, more, much more than all, more plainly
- Superior, extraordinary, surpassing, uncommon
- Pre-eminence, superiority, advantage, more eminent, more remarkable, more excellent.
That was cool and all, but I didn’t get it. So I waited for an explanation, for the dots to be connected. And God said to me: You can only see this in terms of things (I really like handbags and cars and gadgets!) because that’s all your mind can handle, He told me. But there’s more, international speaker. Prophet.
See, we often lose sight of the more. We spend so much time fixating on what the thief came to take, that we lose sight of what we still have and what’s waiting for us.
We get so flustered that we’re not yet at a place where our time with God comes completely unaffected by worldly distraction, that we don’t celebrate that we can just return to sweet, quiet time with our Father.
(I literally just got a phone call. Ugh! OK, back on track. Where was I?…Oh!…)
And while we’re trying to protect all of our stuff from the thief, He’s taking the one thing we aren’t looking at: our focus.
We’re trying to protect our peace when a coworker eats our lunch by saying, “Not today satan!” And satan’s already taken our focus off of our gratitude to God for having food.
We’re trying to protect our joy when a friend says something unintentionally hurtful to us, but satan’s already taken our focus off of the blessing of friendship.
We’re trying to protect our hearts so we’re turning down new friendships and potential dates left and right, but satan’s already taken our focus off of giving and directing that love to God.
We’re trying to protect our dreams by not telling anyone about the desire God’s placed in our heart, but satan’s already taken our focus off of the freedom and joy God wanted that dream to give us.
See how it works?
Well, I decided this morning to just get back to my quiet, devotional time. Even when my husband came home 20 minutes later. Even when my sister called a few minutes after that. I just — took my focus back.
See, what we focus on matters. And the enemy knows that. Because one moment of lost focus could cost us all of the abundance God is promising us.
And His abundance, the more He still has for us that is so splendid we can’t even imagine it, is far greater than what the enemy is currently trying to take.
So cut yourself some slack; you’re human. There will be times when you can press in like never before and experience God in new, intimate ways. But there will also be times when you can’t for the life of you cease the torrent of mundane thoughts that race through your mind.
Keep the faith. Keep your focus. God’s got more for you if you’d just focus on Him and not the thief and his wily ways.