“You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you.”
My mind rarely stays on anything for very long. I am a proud member of the A.D.H.D. generation. We don’t just watch TV. We download songs, Tweet, and carry on a conversation while we watch TV. We have thousands of steams of information at our finger tips every minute of the day, and for many people (me included), those options are just too tempting to ignore. We have developed incredible abilities to multi-task, but are horribly regressed when it comes to focusing.
The prophet Isaiah in his writings stated that our peace is contingent on our ability to keep our mind in one place, with God. That means that we are mindful of what God would think of our situation. Who would God talk to here? What does He want me to see? How would God have me handle this? If you are anything like me then the task of focusing your thoughts seems like an incredible challenge. How can we get to the place where our minds are more consistently “stayed on God”?
Master the art of returning
Keeping our mind perfectly focused on God and the things He would have us think about is impossible. Rather than trying, failing, and giving up, we need to master the art of returning. Once we realize that our mind is travelling down roads that are not good, we don’t need to panic. It doesn’t mean that we have completely blown it, or that we will never get it right. Instead of beating yourself up or giving up, just take your mind back to where you want it to be. The goal is to simply bounce our thoughts back to where we want them to be without punishing ourselves for allowing them to become distracted in first place The more you practice the task of returning your thoughts to God, the better you will be at it.
Accept that you can’t know/see/do it all
One of the reasons we struggle to keep our minds in one place is that we are afraid that we will miss something. We want to see everything out there and know everything we can possibly know about everything. There seems to be a thousand things worthy of our attention, and more often than not, we just split our attention between them. By dividing our attention between everything, we are unable to focus on anything. We have to admit to ourselves that we can not see it all. We can’t do it all, and we can’t know everything there is to know. Once we have admitted our human limitations, we are free to decide where we would most like to spend our mental energy. When we choose where to place our focus, we take control of our thought lives.
Create pockets of distraction-free space
One of the best ways to regain your ability to focus is to create pockets of time that are free from distraction. Shut off your phone. Turn off the TV and any music that may be playing. Get away from other people, and allow you mind some moments of peace. It doesn’t have to be an incredibly long period of time, just a bit of time away will make a difference. Our minds need a break, other than when we sleep. A bit of mental rest will allow you to more clearly place your focus where you would like for it to be.
God does not scream in our ears, demanding our attention. His offer of peace is an invitation, one that we are free to accept or reject. If we trust him with our thoughts we will find that He loves us and is for us. With a little practice you can learn to enjoy the peace that God offers.
1- Isaiah 26: 3 (ESV)