Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Laser-Like Focus

After enjoying an unusually long and warm fall here in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, winter has arrived.  We have enough snow for skiing and snowshoeing and have already survived a deep freeze.  With Christmas just around the corner, we “Yoopers” are a happy bunch.  Unlike many of my southern friends, we embrace cold and snow (for the most part); Christmas would hardly be Christmas without the white stuff!

Having said all that, I have a “warm weather” memory to share.  It really wasn’t that long ago….just seems like it when I look outside.  Last September I learned a lesson that is actually applicable to the season we are in right now.

We had one of those beautiful warm, sunny days.  It must have been a Wednesday because that is Charlie’s “Jacob day”.  Our 5 year old grandson gets picked up by his Papa at school and they spend the rest of the day together while daddy is at work.

Jacob’s daddy has a lovely home on a peninsula (named Portage Point) that juts out into a bay flowing in from Lake Michigan.  Picture in your mind: inviting lake front property complete with seagull sounds, warm sand and choppy waves just made for jumping.  “Jacob’s beach” produces driftwood, weedy lake plants, rocks and sticks…..all wondrous items of interest to our 5 year old young man.

That particular day I drove out to join Jacob and his Papa; when I walked in the house, it was obvious they were not there.  I knew right where to look, of course.  I headed out the back yard and down to the beach.  Way off in the distance I could see them.  It wasn’t too terribly far (maybe a block) but they were beyond shouting distance; between the wind and sound of the waves, all I could do was wave at them.

What happened next has been burned into my memory.  Charlie bent down and talked to Jacob while pointing down the beach in my direction. The next thing I knew, Jacob ran, full speed ahead, toward me.  What is so meaningful is, Jacob has Down syndrome and he is challenged to stay focused on anything.  But that day he had laser-like focus.  Nothing stopped him.  Not driftwood.  Not sticks (which he loves!).  Not seagulls.  Nothing.  He did not stop until he got to me and then his Nana (that would be me!) bent down to his level and gathered him up into a huge hug.

Fast forward about 3 months; we are now in the Christmas season with THE DAY right around the corner.  As a follower of Christ, I want so much to focus on the birth of Jesus, my Savior.  But is my focus as strong at Jacob’s was that day on the beach?  Do I have my eyes on Jesus?  Or am I getting distracted by all of the side issues that our culture has built into this season?

In the Bible, the book of Luke tells the story of the birth of Jesus.  Even though I have read it and heard it multiple times, God has a way of pointing out to me, something I missed….or forgot….or just really need to focus on in the moment.

Remember how the angel appeared to the shepherds in the field (Luke 2: 8-14) proclaiming the birth of Jesus?  Luke 2:15, 16, “When the angels went away from them into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, ‘Let us go over to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has made known to us.’  And they went with haste….. Talk about laser-like focus.

I LOVE Christmas, always have.  But as I journey with Jesus, as I approach the celebration of His birth, my prayer is that nothing will become more important than HIM!  I continue to work at (with some progress) keeping this holiday season is simple as possible.  Even so, how easy it is, to forget to spend time talking to God in my quiet place.  I want to be like Jacob; just as he focused on reaching me that fall day, I want to set my sight on Jesus and run to Him.  Laser-like focus.

May you experience, in a deep way, the richness of this celebration we call “Christmas”.  May the Jesus born in the stable, who grew to be a man, who died on the old rugged cross, only to rise again and defeat death….may that Jesus live in you!