By Major Beth Desplancke

Early in my marriage, my husband took me to a nearby city to attend a play. We weren’t familiar with the area, but we were sure there would be restaurants nearby where we could grab dinner before we enjoyed the night at the theater. This was before we all had cell phones in our pockets and can easily search for “restaurants near me.” We simply drove down streets that looked like they might have a restaurant on them – to no avail.

Finally, in the distance, we saw a partial sign; all we could read was “PA.” Both of our stomachs were grumbling, and food was the only thing we could focus on. I instantly said “Pasta!” My husband agreed with me, and we drove towards the sign. As we drove closer, we talked about what delicious Italian dish we were going to enjoy. My mouth had already begun to salivate thinking of the yummy bread sticks, and the carb laden, cheese filled pasta I was going to partake of. I was hungry and ready to eat!

Much to our surprise, when we got to the place that we were sure was a pasta restaurant, we were quite disappointed. It wasn’t a pasta restaurant, but a paint store! Yep, nothing to eat there. We had a good laugh at how we were so focused on the idea of eating, that our minds had filled in the blanks of the sign with what we were focused on.

I do believe we found something to eat that night before the play, but I don’t remember what it was. All these years later, however, I have not forgotten that adventure and how a fixed focus on the wrong thing can be problematic. Christian author, Lysa TerKeurst writes, “We steer where we stare.” My husband and I learned that first-hand when our stomachs were directing us that night.

The first time we see this principle lived out in the Bible is in Genesis 3. You know the story. God placed Adam and Eve in the beautiful garden of Eden, and they had everything they could enjoy available to them. There was only one rule, only one thing off limits: the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Eve fixed her focus on the one thing she couldn’t have, and because she steered where she stared, the devil was able to tempt her to go ahead and eat of the forbidden fruit. She did, and then gave some to her husband, who was right there with her, and he ate, and the rest is history. Sin entered the world, and we have all been impacted by their choice.

I don’t know about you, but the year 2020 was not anything I planned, and early on in the pandemic as I was home more, I stared too much at the munchies in the cabinet, and steered to food to find comfort. The result –I gained 15 extra, unwanted pounds. As I stared at the TV, and the news, I steered my life towards fear in the forms of panic, anxiety and unease. I don’t want 2021 to be another year like that!

This year, my focus is going to be on Jesus. Hebrews 12:1-2 in the New Century Version says,

We are surrounded by a great cloud of people whose lives tell us what faith means. So let us run the race that is before us and never give up. We should remove from our lives anything that would get in the way and the sin that so easily holds us back. Let us look only to Jesus, the One who began our faith and who makes it perfect. He suffered death on the cross. But he accepted the shame as if it were nothing because of the joy that God put before him. And now he is sitting at the right side of God’s throne.

Corrie ten Boom wrote, “If you look at the world, you’ll be distressed. If you look within, you’ll be depressed. If you look at God, you’ll be at rest.” Whatever this new year holds, and I am hoping and praying that it will be better than 2020, I am going to stare at Jesus, and steer my life towards Him. That is my goal, my resolution, my commitment this year. I can’t control the circumstances that go on around me, but I can control where I choose to place my focus! What are you going to focus on this year?