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Finding Our Focus

If we were going on a family holiday, as I was growing up, it always involved a road trip. Flying was expensive, and my mom was not a fan. So, we’d pile up in the car and drive south for a few days, usually landing in Florida or Arizona.

Road trips have given me time to reflect and time to rest, as the scenery changes outside the window and I’m transported to a new place. There’s space to breathe again, new thoughts emerge and old dreams are resurrected.

During our time in Africa, road travel did not fit this recipe…at all. Aggressive drivers, people and animals near the road, oddly placed speed bumps, often kept me holding my breath, scanning the surroundings like a spotter, as my husband drove.

Thus, one of my favourite holidays was a train trip we took from Tanzania to Zambia, where our anticipated destination was the majestic Victoria Falls.

We hopped on the train for 48 hours, from Dar es Salaam to New Kapiri Mposhi in Zambia. Then, a shuttle from the train station to the capital city of Lusaka, which took another 3 hours. For the remaining 8 hours of the trip, we climbed a bus which took us right into Livingstone.

It would’ve been faster just to fly. (But there’s no adventure in that).

This was our first week off after a very full and intense first year in Africa. Our minds had been occupied with learning language and culture, adjusting to tropical temperatures and tropical health conditions. A time of rest and refreshment was exactly what we needed to unwind.

In this year of 2020, as the pandemic plagues the world, we are limited in our travel options. Many who had planned restful holidays haven’t been able to go because of travel restrictions and self-isolation policies. This puts us a little stuck for a getaway.

Even with these challenges, rhythms of sabbath and rest are vitally important to our wellbeing. Not only for our physical bodies, but also for both our emotional and spiritual health. Perhaps you’ve noticed an increasing irritability, or quick judgements about people, or new policies. Our emotions are running high, fatigue is setting in, and it seems at times that our reserves are being depleted.

Richard Foster writes that “the mind will always take on an order conforming to that upon which it concentrates.” We know that we check our phones often, we read COVID news and latest updates, we scroll social media; what do we find ourselves concentrating on?

In order to develop healthy rhythms of rest, we consider the things we enjoy doing, the small ways we can find refreshment in our situations, and helping our mind rest.

When’s the last time you put your phone down for a day? Like, a whole day? I can’t recall a time when I have.

If we take the time to consider where our minds are fixed, what our thought life repeats, we will discover what has our attention, and gain insight into how our minds are being formed.

This is a challenge for all of us, as we seek to build healthy rhythms and routines, is putting more rest into our daily lives. Jesus was prone to taking time away in solitude and in prayer, to help Him stay connected to the Father, and keep his mind on the things above.

“Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things” (Phil 4:8).

What can you do today that will put your mind on things above?



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