Auto-Focus

In the spring I purchased a new Nikon D3000 digital camera. What I quickly realized: Not your standard point and click type of camera.

I petitioned my eldest to educate me regarding my camera. She smiles lovingly and says, “You have an owner’s manual. Read it.”

Yesterday, I broke out said manual and began reading. I soon realized how out of my depth I am with this camera. I learned enough to be basic with my fancy, shmancy camera. My favorite revelation-“Auto-Focus.”

Are you laughing yet? I am. Laughing-Out-Loud. Actually.

Most of your run of the mill, less expensive, point-and-shoot digital cameras auto-focus on a regular basis. My fancy, 18-55mm digital warrior has a button that allows you to manual or auto-focus based on preference. Part of the reason my photographic exploration with this camera have failed largely rests with that little button-tuned to “M” for manual.

Yesterday I slid the button over to “A” for auto and va-walla! Beautifully focused pictures began to abound like magic. It’s okay if you find yourself laughing out loud still. I am.

In all seriousness, my discovery about Auto-Focus is a lot like stumbling through life reading your Bible here and there, praying for direction in crisis and with the big decisions, or even trying to find a parking space, but forgetting to tune in daily and intimately with God as He commends us to do in His Word.

“4 Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one.[a]5 Love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. 6 These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. 7 Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. 8 Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. 9 Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates.” ~ Deuteronomy 6:4-8 NIV

I do read God’s Word and focus on God when He quickens my heart to His side. But, what could my life look like if I switch my setting to Auto-Focus. What if it depended less on the conditions of my life and circumstances and more on the leanings of my heart?

Begs a question: Is my heart inclined toward God?

Can I answer this question by changing the subject? (Note to self: It’s your blog…)

My daughter and I had a conversation after we attended her home church today. To preface this properly, I need to acknowledge that my kiddoes spent the better part of their growing up years in a small, rural Baptist community of 180 people or so. They naturally incline toward a smaller, closer knit group of people in a neighborhood church as opposed to the mega-church of Gateway where Scott and I have found our home.

I admittedly felt the sweet affection of my heart for a smaller church life as we sat watching three of the youth from our previous church home leading worship from the platform. I leaned over to Scott and smiled, “That is the fruit of your labor up their on that stage.”

He smiled back, looked at the young men playing guitar and drums. “Do you think?”

Scott worked with the youth at Chisholm. He only taught the group from the podium one time, but he gave them more life through relationship than anyone I’ve ever seen do in ministry. He just went every week and related to them, laughed with them and treated them like they mattered. He loved them quietly with a handshake and a smile.

I had a conversation with one of the moms we got to know during that season of our lives and marveled at our kids as we caught up in the few minutes after the worship service we had to speak.

When we arrived home I folded myself up in his arms and said, “Sometimes I miss small church…”

Later Brittany said, “I know… It is so easy for me to get lost in a crowd. I like the fact that when I miss church someone at church misses me.”

This is why she never acclimated to Gateway. Scott and I spent a couple of years wandering around the halls at Gateway trying to find our place. I jumped in and began volunteering and helping out. I joined a women’s group and found some semblance of life on the smaller scale at Gateway while Scott continued to attend on the weekends only. Still at some levels we lost that close connection we both used to feel at Chisholm.

Today, we’ve rediscovered that connection by engaging Gateway Groups and assimilating ourselves into the lifestyle that comes with a church averaging a weekly attendance of 20,000 or more people at three different campuses. We stay connected intentionally – by choice. It took us a while to get our bearings, but now we are moving forward and finding our way in this new, larger church family without feeling lost or on our own.

Which brings me to the Question. “Is my heart inclined toward God?”

Yes, and I say this because He is the utter focus of my daily life. He is ever chipping away at this shell of mine hewing it into His image more and more from the inside out. He is not an after thought or an hour on my calendar – He is my ever-present, constant companion from the time I rise until the time I go to bed. Some might call it over-saved, but I don’t have many thoughts or moments in my day when He is not speaking to me, relating to me and showing me things about Himself – through television, conversation, revelation, and relationship. He is always with me. AUTO-FOCUS.

And, just like with the camera – if you just keep orienting yourself in His direction- and intentionally looking at Him- you just might find you’ve captured the perfect shot without even realizing it.

FOOD FOR THOUGHT:

“If you’d just center your thoughts and affections upon the Lord, you’d be better off accidentally than you’ve ever been on purpose!”~ Andrew Wommack

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