Staying focused

OIP-1

Question for those of you who are now working out of your home: Are you having a hard time staying focused on your work? The distractions are killing me. Yesterday I got the Catch out at 5:15 p.m., forty-five minutes before our evening Bible Study started. I’m not excusing myself here, I’m just reporting what happened.

Every few minutes my phone lights up with a news report about the death toll somewhere, the shortage of medical supplies, the hope for a new drug, the hoax behind another. Texts between family members are flying. But most of all, I feel sort of in a fog as if my distractions are justified. I’m assuming everyone else is going through the same thing. Lots of people aren’t working at all. Their normal time frame is completely off, so there is a sense that we are all floating in some surreal space between real and virtual time where the clock is irrelevant.

Wake up. Slap myself in the face. Life goes on. The Catch at 5:15 p.m.? Get out of here! Who’s going to read it? That’s only twelve hours later than it should be. Emails, texts, notifications, messages — there’s no end to the stream. I need to exercise greater discipline. I need to quit thinking that if I monitor all the news, I can feel more in control. Quite the opposite happens. The more I monitor, the more helpless I feel.

So I turn to the scripture reading for the day from Psalm 74, and this is what I find:

“We are given no miraculous signs; no prophets are left, and no one knows how long this will be. How long will the enemy mock you, O God? Will the foe revile your name forever?” (Psalm 74:9-10)

“No one knows how long this will be.” That’s for sure. That is so true right now and part of what puts our reality in limbo. But we can’t just float along aimlessly. That would be to deny and discredit God, and that’s the last thing we want to do, because God is what everyone needs right now, more than ever. And truly, our prophets are not all gone. We serve as prophets, so we mustn’t float or be in limbo. There is no limbo; that is an illusion. More than ever, we as believers are needed in society to bring stability and hope. We were called for such a time as this. Wake up. Listen to what David wrote later in this same Psalm:

“The day is Yours, and Yours also the night; You established the sun and moon. It was You who set all the boundaries of the earth; You made both summer and winter.” (Psalm 74:17)

In spite of what it might seem, God is in control. He set all the boundaries of the earth; He made the sun and the moon and both summer and winter. He didn’t lay all that down and keep it in motion and suddenly go, “Whoops! Who let out the coronavirus?”

God is in control. We are the ones who know that. We need to watch and pray and live like those who do. Be vigilant. Help where you can. It’s tough. We’re being forced into isolation when people need us. So use the internet and the phone as much as you can. Keep in touch however you can. Especially for the lonely and the vulnerable.

And join us at the Catch. Last night’s Bible study on Zoom was fantastic. As good as being in person. We experienced the body of Christ online like never before. Make a point to join us next Wednesday at 6:00 p.m. PDT, and don’t forget church at the Catch Sunday at 6:00 p.m. PDT. Whenever we come together, we discover the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.

[I’m sending you a double Catch today. Enjoy this from our good friend, David Roper.]

“When You Think You Have To Worry…”

“Look at the birds of the air, for they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? Which of you by worrying can add one cubit to his life span?” (Matthew 6:26-27).

What Jesus precludes is not work but worry. Birds spend a lot of time and energy scratching up food, but they don’t worry about the product. Food is there to be found, provided by our Father. So, a fortiori, our Father provides for us. 

To be honest, our chief anxiety these days is not groceries—we can order them online and have them delivered. Our greatest concern is our “life span.” Will we pass through the corona crisis unscathed? 

Even so, our Lord tells us not to worry. Anxiety can’t add even 18” to our lifespan. (The ancients applied linear measurements—handbreadths and arm lengths—to time lines.) Worry, in fact can shorten our lives.

It’s best then to cast those anxieties on the Lord, knowing that he really, truly cares …all of which reminds me of an oft-quoted poem:

Said the robin to the sparrow,

“I should really like to know,

Why these anxious human beings

Rush about and worry so.”

Said the sparrow to the robin,

“Friend I think that it must be,

That they have no Heavenly Father,

Such as cares for you and me.” 

—Elizabeth Chaney

If you have trouble believing that your Father in Heaven cares for you don’t worry. Rather ask him to help you believe. Everything, even faith, comes, in due time, from above. (Ephesians 2:8,9). 

David Roper

 

When you think you have to worry

‘Cause it seems the thing to do

Remember He ain’t in a hurry

He’s always got time for you

So…

 

Love Him in the morning when you see the sun a-rising

And love Him in the evening ‘cause He took you through the day

And in the in-between time when you feel the pressure coming

Remember that He loves you and He promises to stay.

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10 Responses to Staying focused

  1. peter leenheer says:

    Yes, I am also distracted a lot. It is annoying, and at times unnerving. An athlete from a local NHL sports team just stated that he has to establish a whole new routine. That appears to me my problem. My routine is upset. I want to eat, for the sake of it, waste time to numb my mind and be distracted as much as possible. That is definitely not good. So right here and now I am going to establish a new routine, write it down and ‘religiously obey it’. Yes I am focussed on God, but I also need to get busy, it is a ‘new normal’.

    • John Fischer says:

      Yes. Hopefully it won’t be “normal” for long. But if we make it through this maybe we can establish a new “normal” that will be better than the old one!

  2. Tom Gilbert says:

    Haha John. I get distracted easily during “normal” times. It’s multiplied now! But I loved your Catch today and God is definitely using this time to stretch and grow us. I keep thinking how remarkable that this crisis coincided with Lent! What cross is Jesus asking me to carry? It’s pretty obvious.

    We are all being called (loved that you focused on that in Wednesday’s Bible Study). As a teacher, writer and family man I am humbled and in awe of how the Spirit is leading.

  3. Bev Hromec says:

    | | | |

    | | | After asking if your lovely bride might’ve been my friend’s Ponderosa camp counselor when Marti was in her 20s, and the bible study participant inferring that she’s too fancy for camp, I had to send her this cartoon (see attachment at bottom).  Tee hee.  I’m with ya on this, Marti!  You “glow” girl!  How did you guys meet anyway?  Also, when I went to the John concert a few years ago at Mount Hermon and found about your “bonus boy”, Chandler (right?) I was (and still am) in awe that you guys decided to do that!  SOOOOOOO FANTASTIC!  Super God bless you for rescuing a life in that way! XO Blessings,Bev |

    | | | |

    |

    | | | Yahoo Mail Stationery |

    |

  4. Sue Melancon says:

    Thanks for putting into print how I feel. Well done. It is good to know I am not alone in my recent distractedness and disorientation. I am now comforted.

  5. “By definition, when you look at one thing,
    you take your eyes off of something (or some One) else.”
    ~ Eric Spangler

    “Heart of my own heart, whatever befall,
    Still be my Vision, O Ruler of all.”
    ~ from Be Thou My Vision (Traditional Irish Hymn: “Rop tú mo Baile”)

    • Mark D Seguin says:

      Another very good Catch, Pastor John.

      And big thank-you brother Bob that song & video ministered to my heart!

      PS Going to post it on my Facebook page…

  6. hahimes says:

    I’m another one who has a ridiculously hard time concentrating even in the best of times. Your Catch brought something home to me, though. We are very quick to be hard on ourselves, but perhaps God can still work through our distractedness. Actually, I believe He does already…but I need help to allow myself to accept that even for myself. What showed me that was your comment about “the Catch at 5:15. Whose going to read it?”. I will. And frequently do – even later. The message it offers is valuable any time…and whenever it first finds its way to me, it will be welcomed.

  7. Elizabeth says:

    This is another variety of Me Too! yes, report-writing from home has been part of my job for several years now and–Me Too!–I’ve had that focus and distraction problem all along. Can set the phone and computer not to pop up with “Emails, texts, notifications, messages” — but then something else will become shiny to distract me. Do you remember when the CEO of Yahoo wanted to make people come in to the office and not work from home? all the uproar by employees claiming that they really were just as productive from home? Maybe a few of them were telling the truth but I and the CEO of Yahoo know that most of them were deluding themselves.

    • As one of the many minions whom are considered “essential” (expendable?) I, reluctantly, have to concur with you Elizabeth. The allure of working from home is strong and few of us think that we would be any less productive… until we encounter those damned distractions that aren’t so readily available in the workplace!

      I would like to believe that most of us have good and noble intentions but a majority are too weak to maintain the same sort of discipline and work-ethic imposed by our employers and ourselves – and our God (Col. 3:22-25).

      And, then there are those co-workers – whom we’ve all been subjected to – who are gleefully taking advantage of the state-at home directive for their own personal gratification. Those are the ones who constantly gripe about working conditions and bosses, who gossip about other employees, and whose productivity is usually low; their concern about their negative impact on their employer and fellow-workers is minimal, and they’re possessed by a self-justified belief (delusion) that they deserve a bigger paycheck along with all the benefits and sick or vacation days they can accrue… and then burn it all up with no conscientious hesitation.

      They’re like leeches who suck the vibrancy and vitality out of the workplace; like locusts that devour dreams and devastate relationships; and who, at the end of the week, leave behind barren wastelands of lost hopes and broken spirits.
      Then a new week begins and they’re refreshed and ready to mete out more dissonance in the workplace… they just won’t go away, either!
      Alas, there are leads, supervisors, managers, and CEO’s like that too

      [Employees], do what you’re told by your earthly masters. And don’t just do the minimum that will get you by. Do your best. Work from the heart for your real Master, for God, confident that you’ll get paid in full when you come into your inheritance. Keep in mind always that the ultimate Master you’re serving is Christ. The sullen servant who does shoddy work will be held responsible. Being a follower of Jesus doesn’t cover up bad work.

      And [Employers], treat your servants considerately. Be fair with them. Don’t forget for a minute that you, too, serve a Master—God in heaven.
      ~ Colossians 3:22 – 4:1 (MSG)

      Be blessed, be a blessing, be of good cheer!
      Shalom, Peace…
      🙂

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