Tender Christ, forever near, Help me feel your presence here. Focus me on thy pure light, Inward singleness of sight. (Patricia Hofer, Living Calm, 2016)
This first poem came to me as I began realizing that walking with the living Savior wasn’t something that I had to do or get done. He was going to be the doer, the one who got things done! That change of perspective has freed me in so many ways.
For example, have you ever tried to pray and just couldn’t make the thoughts connect? Or maybe you were too distracted and your mind kept wandering off? This struggle between praying and distraction is not unlike Jesus’ references to a “kingdom” or “house” that is “divided against itself” (NIV Mark 3:24). Two things are always feuding in our mental “house.”
Today, now that research can more clearly distinguish brain function from consciousness, the word focus takes on new meaning. The brain focuses on mundane, earthbound needs and wants—what we’re having for breakfast or how we’ll pay our bills. And yet, at the very same time, our consciousness aspires to something higher—Christly love and forgiveness, compassion and kindness.
When we are distracted, we are, in many ways, divided against ourselves, just as Jesus is describing. But then Jesus follows with this: “In fact, no one can enter a strong man’s house without first tying him up. Then he can plunder the strong man’s house” (NIV Mark 3:27).
The brain with its natural desires and instincts is clearly, for me, the “strong man.” Our problem is that we alone can’t “bind” it or tie it up. But Christ, the living Saviour, can and does do that. And so sometimes the need for us is to sit still and be quiet, allowing the pure and tender light of Christ to flood our consciousness with the “singleness” of his focus.