When my kids were young I used to take them out of school on opening day at Dodger Stadium. It was a tradition for us. I bought a legit scorebook from a sporting goods store and my son, Matt, could keep a detailed scorebook when he was six. We had an excellent pair of binoculars, too. Since I didn’t have front row seats (far from it….literally) my kids and I would use the binos to see the individual players. The thing I loved about them was that I could see a player’s face. They weren’t just small faceless figures playing baseball like wind-up toys, but they were our heroes – we were big Dodger fans. We would pass the binoculars back and forth, taking turns getting to make ourselves a part of what was going on down on the field. Sometimes, one of us would accidently look through the wrong end of the glasses, resulting in making the field and players appear incredibly tiny and even further away. It wasn’t the result we were going for. We controlled what we watched simply by the direction of the binoculars. Since we were there to watch the game, bringing the players close up was our objective. The only problem was that I missed some great plays because I was so focused on one player.
I cannot count the number of times in my life when I was so focused on one little thing that I missed the big thing. When Budd and I were struggling in our marriage I was so focused on my unhappiness that I missed how hard he worked, how much he loved the kids and I, and how much I was contributing to our distance. During the times when we lived paycheck to paycheck, I was so focused on being poor and not having enough that I failed to notice that we had all we needed, including our own home.
We humans can get very bogged down in focusing on the wrong things. Our interior binos cause us to focus too closely on minor things and miss the major things. We look at things in our life through binos that either make them look bigger than they are or smaller. The problem is that they may not be.
It is important, I believe, to occasionally take the time and effort to pause and look at our lives. Is what you are prioritizing really most important? Are people higher on your list than things? Do you ever look at your calendar or finances to discover if they reflect what you value most? It’s one thing to say that your family is your priority but do they get quality time? Do you profess to love God but He gets neither your time nor your attention?
With the constant barrage of information, challenges and demands on your life it is easy to get caught up in the tyranny of the urgent, and its usually what someone else says is urgent. Now is a good time to pause…exhale…and adjust your binoculars to focus on what is most important. If you aren’t sure what that is, ask God. He knows it all.
The Bible addresses this issue of flipped priorities a lot. We are cautioned against making money and stuff our chief priority because it does not last and it won’t give us life. We are told that busyness without rest will pretty much kill us – if not our body then definitely our soul. If we focus on what others think of us rather than on our character we will waste relationships and diminish our influence.
There are certainly thousands of books that tell us who we should be and how we should live. I’m not suggesting you become a self-help addict and ingest all that information. I believe your very best decision is to go to the one who created you. Don’t just ask the question, “What is most important in my life and what should I do?” but take the time to hang with God. Read what the Bible says about how you were created and what matters most for your best life.
Is this easy? I don’t always think so. We humans are very aware of the stuff around us and we want mostly to satisfy our wants and avoid discomfort. That’s not always bad, its just not the most important thing. People who love me have sacrificed for my good. I have done the same for others at times. Yet even when I pray I find that many of my prayers are geared to my comfort…even if they sound like its for others. ‘Lord please find them a job’…..so I don’t have to keep worrying. ‘Lord please heal them’…so I don’t have to keep helping them. It sounds awful when I put it into words but that doesn’t change the reality of my tainted heart.
Lord, I truly do want to be a person who knows and lives by your priorities. How can I lose when what you want most is for me to live my best life and to make a difference on my corner of this planet. God, help me adjust my binoculars to see as you see. Thank you. Amen.
Matthew 6:33-34 NTE
Instead, make your top priority God’s kingdom and his way of life, and all these things will be given to you as well. 34 ‘So don’t worry about tomorrow. Tomorrow can worry about itself. One day’s trouble at a time is quite enough.’
Young King Uzziah had to keep his binoculars focused on God.
2 Chronicles 26:1-5 NLT
All the people of Judah had crowned Amaziah’s sixteen-year-old son, Uzziah, as king in place of his father. 2 After his father’s death, Uzziah rebuilt the town of Elath[a] and restored it to Judah.
3 Uzziah was sixteen years old when he became king, and he reigned in Jerusalem fifty-two years. His mother was Jecoliah from Jerusalem. 4 He did what was pleasing in the Lord’s sight, just as his father, Amaziah, had done. 5 Uzziah sought God during the days of Zechariah, who taught him to fear God. And as long as the king sought guidance from the Lord, God gave him success.
James 1:2-6 NLT
Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles of any kind come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. 3 For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. 4 So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing.
5 If you need wisdom, ask our generous God, and he will give it to you. He will not rebuke you for asking. 6 But when you ask him, be sure that your faith is in God alone. Do not waver, for a person with divided loyalty is as unsettled as a wave of the sea that is blown and tossed by the wind.