We often gaze far into the distance when wondering about God’s direction for us, seeking what the big-picture future will hold. I do this. So much. But if you read last week’s post, you know God has been redirecting my gaze and refocusing my path. If you haven’t read it yet, take a few minutes to settle in there before you continue here.
When living a life of “what’s right in front of you,” focus rather than near-sightedness is the key. It’s not that I ignore the bigger picture, but I am learning to trust what that big picture looks like to God and focus on making the next brush stroke, then the next. Let’s spend a few minutes unpacking the “what’s right in front of you” message by looking at some practical applications you can set in motion TODAY.
- Do what’s in front of you
- As God places opportunities in your path, look at them with a heart of “yes.” Have an open heart and build some open space in your schedule that allows for divine appointments and assignments. Please hear me: not every opportunity is from God and not every request is your assignment. This takes some discernment, but YOUR opportunities will be clear to you as you listen more to what God wants and less to the expectations of the world. Listen to those promptings and whispers that bless another, not just say yes to every person who asks you to do something. This really isn’t easy. I’ve struggled with this for years, but as I walk further down the path God has for me, it becomes clearer to me which are His assignments for me and which are just another thing to do. In all practicality, I’m learning to use the direction of Jesus’ words in Matthew 7:7-8: “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.” Ask God if an opportunity is for you. Seek His direction and timing. Knock on that door and see if it opens. But don’t try to bust through a locked door. Never works out well.
- Use what’s right in front of you
- Look around your home. I’m guessing, like mine, it’s full of stuff. Full of books, clothes, home decorations, food. Things I still go to the store to purchase more of. Use what you have. Figure out creative ways to restyle an outfit with things you already have or a room with decorative accessories from another place in your home. Use the food in the freezer and pantry- again get creative! Read all those books already on the shelf (or on your Kindle) before you buy more. We are blessed beyond belief in this country. We don’t necessarily need more stuff, we just need to use and enjoy what we have more.
- Use the resources, the connections, the gifts and talents that are right in front of you. Not just the stuff. You were uniquely gifted and you have a sphere of influence that NO ONE ELSE has in this world. Make good use of it.
- Write what’s in front of you
- For me that means I need to listen to what God is impressing on my heart, what He is teaching me through my studies, my prayer time, my small groups, messages at church on Sundays, and my life experiences. Then I need to write what He’s showing me rather than worrying about writing what will sell. Life is full of rich material. It just takes time to put it all down in words. Take the time. Even if you’re not a writer. Share your stories and live out loud. You never know what God will use to make all the difference for someone else.
- Love what’s in front of you
- This calls me first and foremost to love my family well, those who live with me and those who don’t. I alone can fill the spot in their lives God has blessed me with. I need to be diligent in that role before I spend myself anywhere else. I need to love the people God has put in my life in my new Texas hometown, listening for how to know them better and serve them better. I continue to love the dear ones we love in California by reaching out to them and letting them know I am still here, still praying, still cheering them on from afar. I am called to love the people on social media with whom I regularly interact by praying for them and encouraging them. I am called to love the person in line with me at Starbucks, or the person sitting by the roadside asking for help, or the person packing my groceries at Kroger. Love the ones right in front of you. God put them there for a reason, and He put you there for a reason.
- Love the circumstances, home, and blessing that are right in front of you. Be grateful. Appreciate the good. Be aware of blessings and look for ways to share them. This can be challenging if you’re in the middle of circumstances or places that are hard, painful, and possibly in no way of your own making or choosing. But you can find blessings in all of these hard things. I’ve struggled oh-so-much here as I’ve learned to walk with chronic illness, move far from all those I knew, and lose a career. You find what you look for; seek with eyes that long to find the good.
- Serve what’s in front of you
- Keep your eyes open for opportunities to serve, even in a small way, the people who surround you. This lines up closely with loving what’s in front of you, but takes it to the next level. You may not be able to serve someone in poverty or illness on the other side of the world, but you aren’t accountable for them. You’re accountable for the person God has placed right in front of you.
- Walk the path that’s right in front of you
- Okay, this one is hard. For years I thought my career in education was the path for me. And it was for a season. Then I thought my career path in a major finance corporation was the path for me. And it was for a season. It’s been a challenge for me to accept this very different, very hard path of chronic illness, but there are a million blessings on this path, just as there were on the others. I trust the One constructing the road. Find contentment in your path even if you seem to be off-roading for a while.
- Take the next step that’s right in front of you
- Just take the next step. Then the next one. And the next one. I spend a lot of time worrying about where the path is taking me, but I need to spend a lot MORE time trusting God’s path and being obedient to His timing His purpose, and His plan. No need to rush ahead of Him. One step at a time is enough.
Choose to be present. Choose to keep focus on the God-given sphere of influence and life you have at your elbow every day. Choose to trust God and focus on what’s right in front of you. Choose to live alert and see what’s there, what you can do, how you can make a difference. And then choose to act.