The Background of my Own Life (April 23, 2013)

…Opening To…

For life, with all it yields of joy and woe
And hope and fear,—believe the aged friend,—
Is just our chance o’ the prize of learning love. (Robert Browning, “A Death in the Desert”)

…Listening In…

In Jerusalem near the sheep gate in the north city wall is a pool with the Aramaic name Bethsaida… A certain man was there who had been sick for thirty-eight years. When Jesus saw him lying there, knowing that he had already been there a long time, he asked him, “Do you want to get well? (John 5:1, 5-6; context)

…Filling Up…

The next time you watch TV, take note of the fact that the camera can only focus on things at one particular distance away from it. Your eyes will be drawn to what is “in focus,” whether the camera focuses on the foreground, the middleground, or the background. Directors use various foci when filming to help tell the story: a character in the middleground might be in focus at the beginning of a scene, but then the camera will adjust to an object in the foreground, showing the audience that the character is looking intently at the object. Rarely is the background the focus of the scene. You can see what is there, but usually objects in the background are indistinct and fuzzy. The characters who stand in front of it are moving and vibrant – and in focus.

It’s quite easy to fall into patterns that lead us to exist solely in this indistinct background part of our own lives. We go about our daily routines: we get up, brush our teeth, shower, go to school or work, come home, watch NCIS, brush our teeth again, and go to bed. And then we do it again tomorrow (except that we have to wait till next week for NCIS). Now, routines aren’t bad or evil – in fact, they can be quite comforting, and some folk need the stability they offer more than they need anything else. But when routine becomes rut, and we do the things we do simply because they offer the path of least resistance, then we will have lapsed into the backgrounds of our own lives. We will have become indistinct, fuzzy versions of ourselves that exist as part of the scenery and not the action.

There’s a reason that this scenery is called “sets.” Everything is set, in place, not going anywhere. But God, I don’t think, let’s us stay “set.” God moves in both the backgrounds and foregrounds of our lives, and this movement pushes and pulls us into sharper focus. We can, of course, continue to exist as fuzzy background filler. But wouldn’t it be better to live in focus?

…Praying For…

Dear God, focusing on you brings my life into sharper focus. Help me to be attentive to your movement so that I may resist the wearying forces of existence that pull me into the background. In Jesus Christ’s name I pay. Amen.

…Sending Out…

I leave this moment with you, God, ready to step into the spotlight of my life and shine in the brilliance of your presence.

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