Train Your Focus
By: Noelle Kirchner
Now the serpent was more crafty than any of the wild animals the Lord God had made. He said to the woman, “Did God really say, ‘You must not eat from any tree in the garden’?” The woman said to the serpent, “We may eat fruit from the trees in the garden, but God did say, ‘You must not eat fruit from the tree that is in the middle of the garden, and you must not touch it, or you will die.’”
“You will not certainly die,” the serpent said to the woman. “For God knows that when you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” When the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for gaining wisdom, she took some and ate it. She also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it. —Genesis 3:1–6
Our Bibles begin with the familiar accounts of creation and original sin. While much has been written about the Garden of Eden and the events that transpired there, I have recently seen the temptation in a new light.
I can imagine Adam and Eve walking through the garden of plenty. They know God personally. They eat from abundance. They have no shame and experience true contentment—at least until the snake puts into sharp relief the one thing that they cannot have.
It’s interesting that God designed a garden of perfection knowing that there would still be one thing that Adam and Eve could not have. Today, God whispers to you and me: Do you trust me? Can you make your home amidst the many blessings that I have bestowed upon you and trust me with the one—or many—things you do not or cannot have?
We often hear alternative whispers too. They nudge us away from trusting God and entice us to focus on what we are lacking. The whispers say, “Take the shortcut. Compromise. Focus on your lack rather than cultivate the fruit of contentment and offer your thanksgiving…”
Original sin isn’t that original—it’s ordinary, and it employs the same tactics that it has since the beginning of time. Will you join me in walking in the garden and choosing where we will focus? Will you allow yourself to truly taste the pleasures that God is offering you right now from his own hand, while trusting God concerning the things that he is not?
The Apostle Paul encourages believers to be content in all circumstances when he writes, “I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all this through him who gives me strength” (Philippians 4:11–13).
God knows your heart. He created it, and he wants to love it into wholeness. That’s precisely where Paul gets it right, and Adam and Eve got it wrong. The latter looked to a fruit to bring them the satisfaction that could only come from God; in turn, they severed the very relationship that could give them what they truly needed. They were deceived.
For Adam and Eve, their focus was the forbidden fruit. What is that one thing for you that God asks you to be content without? Is it possible that God could be using that one thing to drive you even closer into his arms? While none of us is without sin, we can proactively train our focus. Lay your one thing at God’s feet today.
Rev. Noelle Kirchner, MDiv., believes we don’t have to live with full schedules and thin souls. A busy mom of three boys, she is passionate about making faith fresh and relevant. Noelle is a graduate of Princeton Seminary and an ordained Presbyterian minister who has served in churches for over ten years. She has written for places like the TODAY Show Parenting Team, Huff Post Parents, The Laundry Moms, and (in)courage. Her faith and family cable television show, Chaos to Calm, features parenting hot topics and has hosted two New York Times bestselling authors. Watch her episodes or sermons, connect with her on social media, and follow her blog by visiting her website, or receive her free devotional e-book.
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Originally published Monday, 01 August 2022.