Tuesday, 2 July – What Are You Focused On?

2 July

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Genesis 19:15-29

The angels urged Lot, ‘Come, take your wife and these two daughters of yours, or you will be overwhelmed in the punishment of the town.’ And as he hesitated, the men took him by the hand, and his wife and his two daughters, because of the pity the Lord felt for him. They led him out and left him outside the town.

As they were leading him out he said, ‘Run for your life. Neither look behind you nor stop anywhere on the plain. Make for the hills if you would not be overwhelmed.’ ‘No, I beg you, my lord,’ Lot said to them ‘your servant has won your favour and you have shown great kindness to me in saving my life. But I could not reach the hills before this calamity overtook me, and death with it. The town over there is near enough to flee to, and is a little one. Let me make for that – is it not little? – and my life will be saved.’ He answered, ‘I grant you this favour too, and will not destroy the town you speak of. Hurry, escape to it, for I can do nothing until you reach it.’ That is why the town is named Zoar.

As the sun rose over the land and Lot entered Zoar, the Lord rained on Sodom and Gomorrah brimstone and fire from the Lord. He overthrew these towns and the whole plain, with all the inhabitants of the towns, and everything that grew there. But the wife of Lot looked back, and was turned into a pillar of salt.

Rising early in the morning Abraham went to the place where he had stood before the Lord, and looking towards Sodom and Gomorrah, and across all the plain, he saw the smoke rising from the land, like smoke from a furnace.

Thus it was that when God destroyed the towns of the plain, he kept Abraham in mind and rescued Lot out of disaster when he overwhelmed the towns where Lot lived.
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Matthew 8:23-27

Jesus got into the boat followed by his disciples. Without warning a storm broke over the lake, so violent that the waves were breaking right over the boat. But he was asleep. So they went to him and woke him saying, ‘Save us, Lord, we are going down!’ And he said to them, ‘Why are you so frightened, you men of little faith?’ And with that he stood up and rebuked the winds and the sea; and all was calm again. The men were astounded and said, ‘Whatever kind of man is this? Even the winds and the sea obey him.’
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Why are you so frightened, you men of little faith? And with that he stood up and rebuked the winds and the sea

I’m currently in a long distance relationship and to be honest there are times when I feel like I am in a tiny boat travelling out across the sea. There are just so many factors that can rock the boat. It’s difficult sometimes, especially when it’s two people leading two separate lives in two different geological parts of the globe. How does one survive? There are times when I am afraid to dream. To dream of a future that two people can build together. Yet there are times, when it seems that God has a plan and all that He’s asking for is patience to trust in His plan for us – whether that involves being together, married or apart. They are plans that will ultimately be for our good.

The challenge for me presently is not to let my fears of an unknown future overwhelm my present state of being. It’s difficult sometimes, especially when my mind travels far ahead beyond me. One thought leads to another, and soon what I see is a spiral of worries and anxieties based on assumptions that I have of what the future holds. It’s the storm of fear and anxiety that I deal with. When that happens though, I’m carried away from my present moment and I forget to appreciate the gift of “today”. I live life not in response to my present circumstances, but weighed under the shadow of an anxious future. And soon, I’m no longer thankful for what God has given with each passing moment. I become blind to God’s loving graces.

In today’s Gospel, we see the disciples caught right in the middle of a storm. It’s a storm that makes them forget about whom the person of Jesus is. Their eyes are fixed on the storm and all they can think about is the thought of death or destruction. It is fear that they are gripped with and it is fear that they are focused on. It is fear that propels them to awaken Jesus. Jesus’ response however, is a wake up call. He reminds the disciples not to turn their eyes on the storm but on Him. He is physically present there with them in that boat. And they are not alone. “Why are you so frightened, you men of little faith?” He asks. Why are you so fearful, if you have faith? He asks.

That makes me reflect about the times when I turn to Jesus in my anxieties and insecurities. There are times when I pray but I am uncertain if Jesus will grant it. There are times when I doubt that even after prayer, the outcome of the situation will be of good. And therefore I continue to plead with fear and not with faith. It is doubt-driven prayer. I am reminder however by today’s Gospel, that I should turn my prayers from fear into that of faith. Rather than focusing on my anxieties and my fears, I am called to focus instead on Jesus Christ and on the omnipotence of God. I am called to believe in his plans – plans for goodness, and not for harm. Rather than running ahead of myself, I am called instead to focus on the present moment of each day, and to believe that He will give me my daily bread. And to trust that the God who nourishes daily will provide for me eternally. As long as I keep my eyes on Him.

(Today’s OXYGEN by Cassandra Cheong)
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Prayer: Dear Father, let me not focus my eyes on the storm of anxiety and fear, but on my relationship with you; let me focus on your daily presence in my life.

Thanksgiving: Thank you Father for your never failing love and faithfulness in our lives.

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