Last year should have quieted us. Staying home. Slower schedules. Less activity. A chance to do the things we said we would if we only had more time. But the opposite seems to be true: our world is more distracted and more divided than ever. Arguments erupt over almost everything. The world is offended and angry. Tempers flare. Friendships are broken. Families are divided. It’s a chaotic, broken mess and we can’t even agree on how to fix it.
Now, with the promise of normal returning by summer for much of the United States, many are facing anxiety. After a year of the “new normal,” some wonder if we’re ready for a return to our busy pre-pandemic lives. For many, there’s a mix of excitement and dread. Jobs have changed – some have gone to a permanent work-from-home situation, others have seen reduced hours, and some have lost jobs. School situations have changed. The lives we’re re-entering may not look like they did a year ago.
How do we negotiate this new world we find ourselves in? This year, we need blinders. Have you ever seen a horse wearing blinders? They cover part of a horse’s eyes, forcing them to look only straight ahead. It keeps hem focused. They don’t get distracted or spooked by things going on around them.
We need blinders. We need to block out distractions and focus on the one thing that matters. Don’t turn to the hip new teacher that everyone is following or the latest conspiracy theory making it’s rounds on social media or to the politicians full of empty promises – turn to Jesus. Turn to the Bible. Turn to a church that preaches the Word, pure and unfiltered.
It’s easy to get distracted by small things and miss the big picture. We can squabble over minor issues or church traditions and forget that we are brothers and sisters in Christ. We can fight over vaccines and masks, forgetting that in the end, they have zero effect on eternity – but how we act toward those disagree with us might, because people are watching. We can disagree over how to approach the post-pandemic world or how churches should handle it and forget our purpose is to point others to Jesus.
We need to pray as Jonathan Edwards did: “Lord, stamp eternity on my eyeballs.” Eternity is the one sure thing we will all face one day. Will we be ready? Have we helped ensure others are ready? Have we made an eternal difference while we live our short lives here on Earth? We need to take Paul’s approach from Philippians 3:13-14 (NASB): “Brethren, I do not regard myself as having laid hold of it yet; but one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.”
This year, I’m making a goal to turn off distractions and focus on the prize. What does that look like for me? Putting down my phone. Using less social media. I’ll admit, those are hard goals – my phone and social media have become bad habits that need to be broken. I’m also trying spend more time in the Word and less time in opinions about the Word. I’m turning off the TV more, especially the news – checking headlines a couple of times a day works better than listening to the constant stream of fear and anger coming from the news media. I’m doing my best to put on blinders and focus on the one thing that matters and the one thing that never changes – Jesus. What are you doing to focus this year?