An Outward Focus

(Reposted from December 2010)

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Do you ever feel like you’re caught in a trap of self-focus? You really want to serve and be outward focused, but…you just can’t seem to figure out how to get out of the rut you’re in?

Do you ever get tired of living a life that is filled with selfish pleasures? Do you ever feel like there must be something more out there than just pursuing things that make you feel good and that you enjoy?

I have. I do.

My life is not my own. But sometimes I am faced with a cold, hard fact–I spend a lot of time pursuing me.

Perhaps this is because, in a lot of ways, just pursuing ourselves and our own pleasures is the easy road. It’s easy. It’s fairly effortless–and any effort that does need put into it is worth it to ourselves because we benefit personally from the outcome. It’s fun and pleasurable–at least on a superficial level. It masquerades as being fulfilling.

I’m mortified at the amount of time I have spent in my life pursuing my own fulfillment, my own desires, my own pleasure, my own longings. Me. I feel like I have wasted so much of my time and my life on the wrong pursuits–even while declaring that I was pursuing my Saviour. Even while saying my biggest longing was to be poured-out for Him. Even in the midst of proclaiming Him as my all in all.

Forgive me, God.

I grieve at who I’ve been . . . at what I’ve turned my back on. God has called me to be His hands and feet–how have I fulfilled this command?

God has convicted me on this matter. Sweet, sweet conviction. Painful, yes. But sweet in the realization that God has moved in me and caused me to see myself for who I am–He has opened my eyes to see where I’ve plateaued. How I’ve become calloused and apathetic. And, in that eye-opening, He has claimed an utter jealousy over me yet again. He desires my all.

I desire Him as my all. I long for Him.

I am turning from that selfish lifestyle. It is not a lifestyle which promotes Jesus. It is not a life which glorifies the King.

I cannot live for myself and for God.

A choice must be made, and it is with utter joy and shouting from the rooftops that I declare my choice for You, my Jesus! I am filled with an overwhelming love for You, and I cannot keep silent about it! I look at myself and my own fleshly self, and I have absolutely no desire to cultivate a relationship with me anymore. I want to be completely lost in You!

I choose to turn from pursuing me, and my own wishes and desires. All that You have given me–every faculty, every breath, every day, everything–I employ in Your service. Serving You through serving the least. Using the great abundance that I have been given to bring You glory. I have no desire to please myself . . . I have every desire to please You, my King!

God has challenged me– How much of myself can I truly pour out for others? How much time can I spend seeking to bring joy to another? And, through serving others, to know my God more intimately?

How much time can I spend not pursuing me?

Of myself, I can do none of this. I could make a good effort–I could take a few stabs at not focusing on myself, but it would mean nothing. It wouldn’t stick. It would be done out of self-righteousness. God has placed in me a deep desire to live outside of my own wants and pleasures. He has called me to this, and He will equip. And, let me tell you, I’m plain-out thrilled to see how He will continue to lead me in this path!

This is a lifestyle change. I realize that right now, and I know I will realize it afresh time and time again. This isn’t a lifestyle that our earthly selves want to pursue. But I have exciting new: my life is not my own! This is the life I want to pursue! This is the life I choose to pursue!

The God of the universe died for the world–for me. How can I not honestly spill my very life out in pursuing this God?–through a life of worship, a life of prayer, a life of service, a life of adoration. A life lived with an outward focus.

I invite each of you reading this to ponder this and carefully consider this truth in your own life. It has been deeply impacting and convicting to me, and yes, life-changing. This is not something that only takes place by moving overseas and starting a ministry in a foreign land. It isn’t some vague and nebulous “out there” thing that you’re praying about pursuing. This lifestyle takes place right now, right where you are. Every moment of every day. It’s a choice. It’s a life in Christ.

This is not something that God has challenged only me to pursue. If you claim Him as your King and Saviour, this is what He’s asking of you, too. Will you accept this challenge with me?

Do not choose this path out of a desire to have a good list of “works”. Do not choose this because of backward selfish ideas. Do not choose this path for any other reason than because this is what God has called you to. You were created to fulfill a purpose–that of bringing glory to God! And what a glorious calling it is!

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3 thoughts on “An Outward Focus

  1. What a beautiful truth! Yes, the flesh hates complete abandon to God, but the rewards of a surrendered life are joy unspeakable! Praise be to God, who has quickened us to life through Christ Jesus – and life more abundant! Glad I stumbled on your blog! God bless you!

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