Back in high school, I remember cringing when I learned the most popular boy was in my driver’s ed group. He was the quintessential jock—star quarterback, best basketball player, and he dated the head cheerleader.
The first time he got behind the wheel, I was surprised to see him timid and fearful. After a few lessons, the instructor told him he was looking too near the front of the car as he drove. He needed to extend his vision further down the road in order to see where he was going.
Keeping our focal point only on what is right in front of us gives us a limited, distorted perspective of our world.
Similarly, the men’s retreat at my church is called CRASH, the name for a herd of rhinos. According to National Geographic, even though rhinos can run up to 30 miles per hour, they can’t see more than 15 feet in front of them.
Constantly trying to run ahead of ourselves without adequate vision may get us further ahead in one sense but we miss the details of the life that’s right in front of us.
In this unprecedented time of social distancing, self-quarantine, and general anxiety, it can be hard to know where to keep our focus. In part, because there are so many people and things competing for our attention.
A snapshot of my calendar from this week and last shows an Enneagram class, a small group at church where we explore anti-racism, a get-together with a friend (to watch college basketball, no less), church services, a meeting to learn the technical aspects of an online program I’m going to help administer, my regular small group meeting (which requires reading and studying in advance), a two-day conference at work (oh yeah, add in a full-time job), and trips to visit my mom who is in a physical rehab facility.
I don’t usually allow myself so little margin; these just happen to be a very busy few weeks.
But now? *poof* All gone. Everything is cancelled.
And that’s for a single person with no spouse or children to care for. (And before you, dear reader, think, ”Well sure, if I didn’t have to take care of a family I could do that, too.” Remember that it goes both ways; I have no one to help, support, or encourage me at home. Everything’s on me.)
Before I knew what it meant to flatten the curve, the rhythms of my days were familiar and expected. I could transition from one thing to the next, moving through the week like stones skipping across water.
Today I attended church on a screen, from my couch, in my pajamas. I filled out my census form, did a load of laundry, and made a pot of chicken soup. Checking the clock, it wasn’t yet Noon.
No matter how much we might yearn for it during the busyness of life, when our world instantly shrinks to exclude much of the outside noise, we must intentionally readjust our focus.
The writer of Hebrews tells us to think about—consider—focus on Jesus.
Jesus, who is the same in times of plenty and in times of want. Do I give him my full and undistracted focus in both? More often, I fit him in around the edges.
Jesus, who calls us just as clearly when our calendars groan under the weight of obligations as when those commitments fall away. Do I equate “good deeds” for regular time spent with God? Sometimes I offer leftover time, rather than the first fruits of my schedule.
I can focus on what is right in front of me—I wonder if I have enough toilet paper? I can also get ahead of myself and focus on the unknown—What if I or someone I love gets sick and dies? Or I can focus on Jesus, the one constant who will never change.
I don’t know how small your world feels right now. After less than a week, mine already feels pretty isolated. But the creator of the universe seeks our attention. I happen to know there’s room on the calendar.