Best of Daily Reflections: Find Focus in a World of Distraction

Daily Reflection / Produced by The High Calling
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Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.

Matthew 5:8

Jesus begins his Sermon on the Mount with a description of eight provocative blessings. If you were to think of these blessings as eight mountains in the grand Himalayan chain, I think many would find today’s blessing to be Mount Everest—the most difficult of all—to be pure in heart.

Sören Kierkegaard restated this beatitude in this way, “Purity of heart is to will one thing.” When Jesus speaks of a pure heart, he is referring to more than emotions. To Jesus the heart represented the integrated core of a person—a kind of perfect synthesis of all thoughts, feelings, and will. Imagine the independent-minded forces of heart, mind, and will lined up in single file singing, “Hi ho, hi ho,” like the Seven Dwarfs. It is, as the saying goes, like herding cats.

When Woody Allen was asked what he believed in, he said, “I believe in the power of distraction.” It’s hard to have a pure heart when life has so many distractions.

Here’s what Paul had to say about willing one thing,

I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate … I can will what is right, but I cannot do it. For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I do. (Rom. 7:15-19)

So much for purity of heart.

While I can’t say that I’ve given it my full effort, I have tried, and I’m sorry to say that so far I’m still in the foothills of my Mount Everest. Some of it has to do with the maddening distraction of sin. And some of it has to do with the 1001 competing demands on my life. If I aim to sustain a singular focus on God, how will I have time for everything else?

A while back, I climbed Mount Rainier in Western Washington. A friend invited me to join him. For three days, my life was singularly focused on the great mountain. Everything I ate, wore, and thought had to do with the mountain. And then it occurred to me that the more I focused on the mountain and the higher I climbed, the farther I could see. Ironically, having a singular focus didn’t shrink my world, it blew my world wide open. Maybe that’s what Jesus had in mind when he said, “Seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness and all these other things will be added as well.”

QUESTIONS FOR FURTHER REFLECTION: As you have walked with Jesus, would you say your world has gotten smaller or larger? If smaller, what’s now left out? If larger, what’s new? How has it changed your goals and desires to become increasingly devoted to Jesus?

PRAYER: Lord Jesus, I admit that giving more and more territory of my heart, mind, and will to you has been a battle. For some reason, I have a hard time believing that you’ve got a better plan for my life than I do. Thank you for not giving up on me. As I yield to you in some small way today, give me a glimpse of the breadth and length and height and depth of the life you have in mind for me and all your children. Amen.


Dave Peterson is an ordained pastor who is the Director of Community Outreach for The Robert and Janice McNair Foundation and Scholarly Advisor for the H. E. Butt Family Foundation. He is the author of Receiving and Giving, Unleashing the Bless Challenge in Your Life. Dave and his wife, Terri, have four adult children and four grandchildren.

All Things New

Every now and then, you notice it. You recognize the world in which we live is not quite living up to its potential. In the midst of the every day, tiny reminders creep through to reorient us to the truth that this world is not our home. Tainted by the Fall, all of creation yearns for the restoration of all things. We navigate the heartbreaks and the disappointments amid celebration and triumph. We wonder how to tackle injustice while we journal lists of gratitude and thanksgiving. Through it all, God is making all things new, just as he promised. He invites us to join him in the process. What might you contribute through your work and life while you journey through this one life you’ve been given? As a follower of Christ, what role might you be invited to play as God makes all things new? What difference does your vocation make in the work of restoration and redemption? Join the conversation in the series, All Things New.