I spent a huge chunk of a workday working on an Excel spreadsheet, and not much else. I am decent with Excel, and can typically finagle my way around most spreadsheets. (I guess that college course is paying off.) This however was not the case with this particular file. It is a file that I needed to check for errors and there were plenty. Now the problem with altering someone else’s file is you are not starting with a blank canvas. It is like having to finish someone else’s painting and it is only 75% complete. Now I am no accountant, but I can tell when things are incorrect in Excel… mainly because it has a little green triangle in the corner to let you know that something was input wrong. When you click the little triangle, it tells you that there is a problem with the formula, which means the reference points within the formula are bad. The problem with most of the formulas was that they were referring to an empty cell. As I began working through this spreadsheet and trying to fix the many problems, it got me thinking… how many of us struggle with problems in life because our reference point is wrong or empty?
Not having a good reference point is the problem of all problems. Farming is one of the clearest examples! When you are plowing or tilling up land, you have to find and use a solid, unchanging reference point so that you can plow in straight lines. If you take your eyes away from that focal point, the lines can begin to skew, much like in our daily lives. When we take our eyes off Christ, our life begins to get a bit off-kilter. We lose our frame of reference, and begin to meander. J.R.R. Tolkien wrote in The Fellowship of the Ring, “Not all those who wander are lost.” And this is true for believers. We tend to get distracted with things in this world, but ultimately it does not take away our ultimate “Reference Point”. God has not and will not change. He has been the same since before time began, so our Reference Point is unchanging, but our attentions are constantly wavering.
This wavering attention can also take away from our time with God. Life likes to step in and distract. I’ve heard before that, “If Satan can’t make you bad, he’ll make you busy.” And boy, if busyness doesn’t distract! When your mind is full of so many things going on, it makes it difficult to focus on the Almighty. It seems almost silly that fleeting things of this world can take away from the Eternal, but so often they do.
When we allow this life to distract us, we are allowing God to take a backseat. Our prayer should be that all the things we spend time or thought on be glorifying to God. Psalm 19:14 is the perfect example of this prayer, “May these words of my mouth and this meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer.” We, and by we I definitely include myself, have got to keep our eyes focused and keep God as our main focus. He will not lead us astray, and He will definitely provide all the necessary guidance.
When I read through the Bible, I can see these people lose their purpose and focus and begin to flounder. It is when they take their eyes from God that their troubles begin. I think about Peter as Jesus calls Him out onto the troubled water. As Peter steps out, he is watching Jesus and placing all of his trust in Him, but then we see Peter take his eyes from Jesus, the Ultimate Reference Point, to look down at the unsteady water. Peter began to sink immediately. Only after Peter had gotten distracted and placed his worries as his main focus does he realize his mistake. Peter’s example is very clear. We can see how important it is to keep God as our focus. But sadly, this is easier said than done, but God doesn’t just call us to do it, he has given us much wisdom on how to keep Him as our Center.
Here are 3 small ideas to help you keep God as your Reference Point:
1. Don’t dwell on the “Other Stuff”, just on the Good.
“Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.”
- Don’t be distracted away from God, even if the distraction seems necessary.
“As Jesus and his disciples were on their way, he came to a village where a woman named Martha opened her home to him. She had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet listening to what he said. But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made. She came to him and asked, “Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!” “Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “you are worried and upset about many things, but few things are needed—or indeed only one. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.””
3. Don’t doubt that He has provided and cares for YOU!
1 Corinthians 10:13
“No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it.”
Keep God at the center of life, and keep Him as your Reference Point. Don’t allow busyness, distractions, or even doubts to let your mind take focus away from God! Lean on Him at all times, and He will be your refuge.