Monday, December 09, 2013

Heart Focus (Distractions)

We often have foreign students living with us. They are either attending the local university or studying English in preparation for attending the local university. 

Currently, we have a student from China. And his father recently decided to visit the US. He has friends in San Francisco, relatives in Boston, and a son elsewhere on the east coast. They will return to China next week. (After the son will return to the US after winter break.) 

The father will be staying with us for a couple of weeks. He speaks little English, and the son attends classes Monday through Friday. Because communication is difficult, the normal means of expressing hospitality are very limited. His son translates and there are apps on the internet. But TV, normal conversation and asking questions are pretty much out of the question. And there are some transportation issues. Realizing this is not an earth shaking predicament, it does add up to a slight increase in stress. 

I believe people live from their heart, from their inner core, from the inside out. Jesus said that what they put in their heart automatically comes out of their mouth and in their actions. This is the normal way people work. But what happens on the outside does affect the heart. 

I have noticed that the ability to focus my heart -- to reflect, pray and meditate -- has been blocked somewhat. It could be the visit, the season, (the effects of too much turkey) or one of those bio-rhythm things. With a diminishing of my heart-focus, one would expect a diminishing of God's reciprocating heart-focus, an therefore, a lessening of grace, and the flow of God's Spirit getting blocked somewhat. 

One would also expect a decrease in appropriate behavior. Now, I haven't lost my temper. I haven't gone on a "bender" of one sort or another. But I have noticed a "tremor in the Force." A small loss of peace. (Or a small gain in anxiety. A stranger in the house? Too much turkey? The BCS standings?) But there is a definite sense that I am not functioning at 100%. And there is a definite sense that, at least in part, it is a result of a heart-focus that is not optimal. 

If what we have been discussing lately, the heart-focus being the conduit of God's grace, and the flow of the Spirit into our lives, and if, as followers of Jesus, we live by that flow of grace and the Spirit, then disruptions of that flow are serious. Then, anything that causes a distraction to that heart-focus is serious. 

One could say that our primary weapon is achieving God's purposes, growth or restoring God's kingdom is our heart-focus. It connects us to God, to grace and to God's Spirit, which are our primary resources in achieving the things mentioned above. Then, it would not be too much of a stretch to conclude that Satan's primary objective in spiritual warfare is to disrupt our heart-focus, and to cut us off from our primary resources. Anything that disrupts our heart-focus can be an attack from the enemy. (I would not get too hyper about this. All he needs to do in many cases is just let life work. Living is distracting all on its own.) Areas of sin, areas of every day life (politics, school, work) and even areas associated with righteousness (family, church) can become an artillery barrage to our heart-focus. 

NOTE: I am beginning to wonder if what we are calling our heart-focus is what Jesus meant by "abide in me." 

NOTE: I just finished a historical novel about the battle of Vicksburg during the Civil War. The deciding factors in the battle were (a) the Confederate army was cut off from their resources (food, ammunition and clean water) and (b) the Union army was well-supplied in all of the above. Demonstrating how vital maintaining connections to resources in war is.

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