Recently at a luncheon, after all of the pleasantries aside, I asked what I thought was a simple question. The stares back reflected that the listeners were either taken aback at such presumption of me or they were simply surprised. I received four answers, focus, wisdom, grace and patience but out of that one word stuck in my mind. It was the answer from a young gal soon to leave her teen years behind and enter adulthood. Her one-word answer to how can I pray for you was “focus.” I have been pondering that since our interaction and I think the answer is found in the first chapter of Peter as he counsels the early believers facing the trials of life. He says as you walk through life you truly need to “focus.” But focus on what?

Here’s an illustration as to what I am saying. You are asked would you like to dance and you respond with an affirmative realizing that only one can lead and the other follow. If the follower seeks to lead then the feet become intertwined and the steps are off. Facing life and trials are like a dance. We must “focus” on following God as lead and our dance steps are in tune. But, if we step aside and say we want to lead then the steps are not led by God Almighty but us. Therein lay the advice of James to the dance of life which includes trials of all kinds. James tells us that when in a trial focus on this: “count it all joy.” Incredulously we wonder if he is living in la-la land! How can we focus on joy when we are in a trial?  We are exhausted, drained and our light seems to be under the bushel not out for the world to see. Yet James knew that through this dance of trials God produces endurance or steadfastness and a perfect dance with Him. The answer to this paradox is found from the wisdom of Peter. He captures the secret behind that statement having walked with Jesus for three years, denied him three times and then being  asked three times “do you love me?” He has in his quiver or dance card the wisdom that comes from facing many trials.

Peter is saying to these early believers and to you and me---when you are faced with the trials of life, and you will face them, “focus” on God as your dance partner. “Focus” on God’s protection. “Focus” on the fact that your dance of faith is seen by the angels of heaven and the world watchers and they marvel to its genuineness. “Focus” on what you do have; a new dance partner who was raised from the dead giving you a re-birth into a living hope. “Focus” on what you read in your dance card; an inheritance which is imperishable and undefiled and will not fade away as the many trinkets we gather and turn to rust and decay.

And that, in a nutshell, is how you “focus.” Peter has danced the trials of life with God as lead and he knows what James said truly works. The key is “focus” on the word JOY…Jesus first, Others second, Yourself last.

So how can I pray for you? 

Published by Gaye Austin