Theme: Outward Focus
I want to keep growing as a follower of Jesus. The myth I have believed most of my life is that growing means there is some drastic change. For some reason, I have always looked for those big moments where God enters the room and things are never the same. But the longer I live, I wonder if in looking for the "moment" I have missed seeing all the growth happening around me and maybe in me.
So I started thinking of the things that are always growing, but slowly, almost unnoticeable. Here are some things I came up with - grass, flowers, trees, kids (I will say not seeing some of the kids in our church for awhile due to COVID and then seeing them, it's like wow, you have grown so much) glaciers, coastlines, tectonic plates, and sloths. Most of nature is slow growing.
When Isaiah wrote, "See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland", probably the most startling thing I learned was "now" was 700 years later. But the more I think about it, Jesus arriving on this earth was big, but so much had to happen in history to get ready for His arrival. So while it was 700 years, the entire time growth was happening.
As I said Sunday, I think growing spiritually comes back to one thing, the direction of your life. Are you inward or outward focused? And moving from inward to outward focused doesn't happen over night. But it is as simple as a decision. When you make that decision you will start seeing the ways in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland. Being an outward focused person will literally transform every aspect of your life.
I will close with a quick example. I was driving out of Harbor Freight's parking lot (I love Harbor Freight by the way) and saw an old man walking with a Penn State hat and Steeler shirt. I stopped, rolled down my window, smiled, and said, "Sir, I had to stop and tell you those are my two favorite teams. I am a PA boy, grew up in western PA." He said, "Oh, so did I." So I asked him what part and he told me Sharon, PA. That is the same city I was born in and my dad's meat shop did business for over 70 years. What are the chances, right? We had a pleasant exchange that brightened both of our days.
Now is that some big "moment" to most? Probably not. But for me it was growth because I was outward focused, aware of the people around me, looking to be kind and friendly, and God gave me a chance to simply be a friendly person. I wouldn't have done that years ago. Being outward focused is against our nature, but if we want to see what God is up to, it begins with asking God to help us be outward focused - a holiness life.
Scripture: Isaiah 43:19 (NIV)
"See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland"
Prayer: New Beginnings
“Heavenly Father, You are the God of new beginnings. You are the God who is always doing a new thing. You are the God who is making a way in the wilderness. You are the God who is making streams in the wasteland. God, I want to perceive what you are up to so please help me to be an outward focused person. Help me to get my eyes off myself and start getting my eyes on You and the people around me. I want to live a bottoms up, poured out life. Whatever has ended in my life, may it be the start of a new beginning. And whatever needs to end in my life, end it, and help me to see the new path you have for me to take. I know it may not happen over night, but I truly want to grow in this area of direction. May you help me become the outward focused person I see in my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Amen."