I am intrigued with stories from Everest and other great expeditions that seem to defy human ability and logic. The tragic stories always involve someone getting so focused on the summit or the next camp that they lose sight of their key metrics, whether that be a certain time limit, the way their body is responding abnormally, or the quick shift in weather patterns. Life finds some through a rescue mission. Death finds the others. For those that live, we read of their reactions when they realize just how lost they were in their focus on the summit. They are thankful to have been found.
The irony of becoming lost due to focus is not just for climbers on an expedition. The addict’s singular focus on oxycodone. The girl’s singular focus on her weight. The man’s singular focus on finding his next porn site. So fixated, and so lost. It’s easy for me to scoff at the addict, or the girl, or the porn-surfer. Those are not my problems. But I too am lost in pride and selfishness, focused on MY plan to fix MY problems.
My kids often become the target of this fixation. They are teenagers now. Questions arise each day. Problems I need to fix lay out there in front of me to tackle. I am made for this. My kids need me. They need me to tackle, to conquer, to solve on their behalf.
But the more I force it, the more I try to tackle it on my own, the messier it seems to become.
The Bible has a lot to say about being fixated on our problems and trying to solve them on our own. Redemption and restoration are the hallmarks of God’s word. In all of his goodness and grace, he wants to be with us, walking through the wilderness and the difficulties together. We see this clearly in the very beginning: “Then the man (Adam) and his wife (Eve) heard the sound of the Lord God as he was walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and they hid from the Lord God among the trees of the garden. But the Lord God called to the man, ‘Where are you?’” (Genesis 3: 8-9)
So many of us think that after the fall it was God who turned away in wrath and hid from his people, his creation. Instead, it was man who hid, was lost, and yet God still pursued His creation. Despite their being fixated on themselves, ashamed, and ready to handle things on their own, God wanted to be with Adam and Eve.
This deep and pure desire of God wanting to be with us, no matter the sinful circumstances we have created through our singular prideful focus, continues throughout the Bible all the way through to Revelation: “Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with that person, and they with me.” (Revelation 3:20)
In all his boundless grace and goodness, God pursues you as a parent as well as your child. One of my favorite stories from the gospels is at the end of the Gospel of John when Jesus comes back to engage with his disciples. He was pursuing Peter. Jesus made a fire on the beach, cooking some fish and bread while he watched his disciples come in from a fishing trip. Just days before, Peter had disowned Jesus three times. Jesus had even foretold the denials. Peter had become lost, focused on being accepted by others. (This sounds like my teenagers at times. In fact, maybe more importantly, it sounds like me as a parent at times.) Regardless, Jesus wanted to spend time with Peter on the beach. He didn’t shun Peter. He didn’t rebuke Peter. He said, “Come and have breakfast,” inviting him to a fish fry on the beach with his buddies.
I don’t know what your latest battle has been with your kids. I have no idea what you are intently focused on solving right now for your family. But if you are anything like me, whatever you have focused on has probably caused you to be lost and anxious. If so, I encourage you to set your pride aside. Lose the single-minded fixation of attempting to solve this on your own and ensuring it looks good to those around you. Instead, simply spend some time with God.
He’s standing at your door, waiting to hang with you. He does not want to rebuke you. He wants to restore you, breathe life into you through His peace and guidance.
Have breakfast with him.