Growing up in New Orleans, my friend Sandi road bikes with her family on Sunday afternoons. Every week her mom would say, “Sandi, don’t hit the pedestrians.” And every week Sandi would run into one of them.
Photo by: Pedro Ribeiro Simões
Sandi didn’t want to hit the walkers. But, when she was peddling, she’d watch the people strolling next to her. Her bike followed her gaze.
In his book Thou Shall Prosper, Rabbi Daniel Lapin said a trainer for highway patrol motorcyclists shared an important lesson: focus on where you are going, not on where you are. A biker’s body and bike naturally follow his focus.
The same principle works in life. I’ve discovered my outlook follows my thoughts. When I brood over the negative, guess where my spirit goes?
Recently, I’ve had some opportunities to test this. One night I sensed a glum spirit in our son. “What’s wrong?” I said. He showed me a link that described a horrible autoimmune disease (masticatory muscle myositis) that our vet thinks our beloved standard poodle, Max, has. I read it and felt my spirit sink.
Thankfully, alarming reports don’t have to consume us. The apostle Paul endured numerous threats. Yet, even in prison, he chose to set his mind on the good things he knew to be true. “ 8 Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things,” (Philippians 4:8, ESV).
When I first heard my vet’s thoughts, the Lord reminded me of the man born blind. Jesus said he was born blind “so that the works of God might be displayed in him,” (Jn. 9:3, NASB). It is not helpful for me to dwell on what might happen to Max. I need to focus on “whatever is commendable.” For me, that’s talking to our vet, praying, and reminding myself that the Lord will be glorified through Max.
When we follow Paul’s example and focus on the good we know, we discover a peace that surpasses understanding—a peace that overcomes bad news and difficult circumstances.
Paul promises an even richer benefit than the peace of God: “practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you,” (Phil. 4:10, ESV). Did you get that? As we set our minds on Christ, God himself comforts and assures us He is with us.
Focus takes practice. Is your mind set on where you want to go or on what you want to avoid? Sandi learned to ride safely among pedestrians by redirecting her focus.
Please pray that I will keep my mind stayed on Christ. I’d appreciate your prayers for Max too. How can I pray for you?
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Deborah W. Wilson