Focusing on Joy

“For you make me glad by your deeds, Lord; I sing for joy at what your hands have done.” (Psalm 92:4 NIV)

 

During our Vacation Bible School training, we talked about the importance of being attentive. The trainer asked us to watch a video of two jugglers and count the number of times they threw a red ball back and forth between them. I dutifully focused on the ball and counted up my total: seventeen times. Then the trainer asked us how many of us had noticed the gorilla. I blinked at her. I had watched that video—there was no gorilla in the crowd. I was sure of it! But when she played the video again, I saw she was right. In the middle of the video, someone dressed in a gorilla costume wandered into the crowd behind the jugglers, waved at the camera, and exited the scene. I’d been so focused on the ball that I had missed the gorilla.

There’s actually a term for this phenomenon: inattentional blindness. It has to do with how our brain works to filter stimulus. We can’t focus on everything, so our brains help us filter out what’s important. We can be so focused on one thing that we miss other details—even when those details are as obvious as an out-of-place gorilla.

I’ve found that I can have inattentional blindness in ministry, too. It happens when I get so caught up in making sure the Bible School decorations are perfect that I forget to rejoice over the three new families who came last night. Or when I’m so worried over the conflict and complainers I miss the girl in the third row who senses a call to ministry. It happens when I fret over my weaknesses, forgetting to rely on God’s power. When I focus on the wrong things, I miss the right thing—seeing God at work around me.

I can overcome my inattentional blindness by intentionally focusing on what God is doing. What is God teaching me? Whose life is he transforming? What is God up to in my world, and how can I join him? When I spot those things, it reminds me both to rejoice and to invite others to celebrate with me. God is at work in my world. That’s cause for joy.

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About Leigh Powers

Leigh Powers has had a lifelong love affair with the Word of God. A pastor's wife, mother of three, and award-winning author and speaker, she is passionate about helping women find hope and healing in God's Word. She is the author of "Renewed: A 40-Day Devotional for Healing from Church Hurt and for Loving Well in Ministry." You can connect with Leigh on Facebook (@LeighPowersMinistries), Twitter (@leigh_powers), or at her blog, www.leighpowers.com.

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