By Jean Bloom
As a freelance editor for Christian publishers and ministries, I’m blessed to find my work uplifting, interesting, and mostly stress-free. The editing is challenging, but it also allows me to easily focus on God. He’s right there on the page, speaking through the words and stories he puts in the hearts of authors to share with the world. He provides for me themes of redemption, rest, and abiding nearly every day through my work.
But God has also shown me that, over the course of my adult life, I’ve too often focused on the challenges in front of me at the expense of focusing on him.
After college I was a caseworker at a Christian social services agency that majored on crisis intervention. Day after day, we found men, women, and children resources for sustaining food, clothing, and shelter, as well as crisis counseling. I was there to show our clients God’s love and care amid their trials, and I wanted to do a good job. But often my focus was on the challenges at hand.
When I entered the rhythm of the publishing world, I was in a nearly constant state of urgency. I loved my fast-paced role, and as an employee of a Christian company, I was there to not only help reach our owners’ goals but to help authors reach readers for Christ. But on too many days I didn’t focus on God nearly as much as on the ongoing challenges inherent in publishing.
And when I was a stay-at-home mom for ten years in between, I don’t think I focused on God’s presence in my life and the lives of my three precious little ones as much as I concentrated on the diaper-changing, squabble-fixing, and never-ending kitchen and laundry duties constantly staring me in the face. (To say nothing of the challenges inherent in being the spouse of someone in ministry.)
I wonder now, why did I not focus more on God in these places? Why did the challenges seem to overshadow dependence and focus on him?
Oh, I focused on God, and I depended on him too. But it was far too easy to do so compartmentally. The challenges of life and work called me to do. They called me to solve. They called me to run fast. They called me to overcome. And I listened. They also prompted the idol of self-sufficiency in my life, an idol that fought giving my best attention to the One who deserved it the most.
Maybe that’s one of the reasons God painted a big fat arrow that said to my husband and me, “Leave. Now.” I left my corporate employment. Left my beloved Lake Michigan. We said good-bye to our church and the people we’d come to know over the twenty-five years we lived in Western Michigan. But we also moved closer to family and to friends from the early years of our marriage. And I shifted into work and a pace that has allowed me to see the beauty and blessing of focusing more on who is than on what is.
Proverbs 8:17 says, “I love those who love me, and those who seek me find me” (NIV). But before I could seek God more fully, less compartmentally, he lovingly set out to find me. Psalm 23 has come alive for me in a fresh way. Like a good shepherd, he sought me when I was astray. He made me lie in green pastures, led me beside still waters, and refreshed my soul. He prepared for me a table in the presence of my enemies, compartmentalization and self-sufficiency. Because I let him, he has guided me along right paths. And now? My cup overflows.
What’s your focus each day? Whether you labor for a paycheck, as a volunteer, or as a dedicated stay-at-home parent or caregiver—whatever it is he’s given you to do—I believe God wants you to focus on him more than on the challenges in front of you. Love him. Seek him. And you’ll find him. Then surely his goodness and love will follow you all the days of your life.
For the rest of my life, that’s what I’m counting on.
Jean Kavich Bloom is a champion coffee drinker and a freelance editor and writer for Christian publishers and ministries. She doesn’t garden, bake, or knit, but insists playing Scrabble is exactly the same thing. Jean and her husband, Cal, live in central Indiana. They have three children (plus two who married in) and five grandchildren. She blogs at bloominwordstoo.blogspot.com.
Photograph © Roman Kraft, used with permission