Back to school is a crazy time of year. Period. Never mind adding in the never-ending stress, unknowns, and opinions of navigating ongoing concerns with COVID. Lunches. School supplies. Clothes. Getting back into a fall routine. Balancing your work schedule with their school calendar … Is it even possible to keep space for Jesus in the midst of all that? Chet Kennedy, Student Ministries Pastor at FAC, shares some thoughts on focus …
Focusing on Jesus: The Bokeh Effect
I’ve been playing around with iPhone photography for the last few years and there’s something that Apple has built into their new phone technology that mimics the look of the bokeh effect in Photography. The bokeh effect is that idea that you focus your camera on an object or person in the foreground and then the background becomes blurry. It’s a beautiful effect in photography. In life there’s a similar function in our souls.
When our hearts are focused on Jesus, everything else goes blurry and our world begins to make sense. But when we focus on the busyness of life, our crazy back to school schedules, fall shopping, driving kids all over town… nothing makes sense.
If we look in Matthew 14 we can see an incredible example of focus. We can see this principle in action in Jesus’ life.
Matthew 14:1-12 tells the story of John the Baptist being beheaded. It’s a brutal ending to a beautiful life of faith and devotion to Jesus. A horrific ending for a friend and cousin. A senseless way to die.
Matthew 14:13 says that “When Jesus heard what had happened he withdrew by boat to a solitary place.”
He withdrew by Himself to be with His Father. When things are horrific and messy and brutal and wretched Jesus focuses on his father.
Then, Matthew 14:13-21 tells the story of the feeding of the 5000. Basically the people find Jesus and when He returns to shore He has compassion on them and spends time healing their sick. The people stay and the day turns into evening. You know the story; Jesus performs an incredible miracle with 5 loaves and 2 fish. This miracle is monumental, people eat until they are full and there are leftovers. What a triumph.
Then, Matthew 14:23 says that after He had dismissed His disciples and the people, He went up on a mountain to be by Himself and pray.
He withdrew by Himself to be with His Father. In this passage we learn that when things are incredible and wonderful and amazing and miraculous Jesus focuses on His Father.
When our minds or hearts are focused on something other than Christ, it takes all of the attention. This fall, amidst all the chaos and bustle of back to school, the one thing that will most likely drop out of focus is Jesus. This happens slowly … almost imperceptibly. We get busy, we get distracted, we get exhausted and we forget to take a moment out of our day to focus. Focus on Christ, focus on all that He has done for us. We lose for focus on His walk with us through the tough times, the good times, and these busy times.
Later in Matthew 14:22-36 we have another story of focus. This is the story of Peter walking on the water. Jesus is walking on the water. Peter says these immortal words. “Lord, if it’s You, tell me to come to You on the water.” and Jesus replies, “Come.”
Verse 29 says:
“Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came toward Jesus. But, when he saw the wind, he was afraid and beginning to sink, cried out, ‘Lord, save me!'”
This is a great example of focus. When Peter was walking on the waves and focusing on Jesus he was making great progress but when he focused on the wind, and the waves, and the water he started to fear and he began to sink.
But, we can also be encouraged by the fact that when he did cry out it says in verse 31 that “Immediately Jesus reached out His hand and caught him.”
This fall we may not be attempting to walk on water but sometimes the enormous task of raising kids for Jesus can feel just as impossible. That’s why keeping our minds focused on Jesus is so important for our hearts, our minds, and our family.
If you’re looking for some ways to keep your kids focused on Jesus this fall, we do have a number of programs launching in the next few weeks. Check out the links below to learn more:
When we look to Jesus we can truly see
Where we are
Where Jesus is
What Jesus is doing in and through us
When Christ is the centre the rest comes into focus
When our focus is on us we see what we want to see.
When we focus on the world we are quickly overwhelmed
When Christ is the Centre the rest begins to make sense
-Written by Chet Kennedy, Student Ministries Pastor at FAC
You may also be interested in …
- “How to Survive Back to School” blog post written by Jon Caldwell (published August 31, 2018)
- “A Work in Progress … a biblical perspective on parenting” blog post (published January 29, 2021)