Q: How do you keep your focus on Jesus when everything else is chaos?
A: Keeping my focus on Jesus when life feels out of control is all about worship. Peace is achieved by surrendering to the presence of God within me, not by controlling the circumstances around me.
Nothing about God is chaotic. “God is not a God of confusion but of peace” (1 Cor. 14:33). The very first chapter of the Bible shows how God brought order out of chaos, giving the earth its form and the stars a place to camp and the sea creatures a place to swim and humanity a place to dwell.
Then sin happened and a new kind of chaos ensued, in which man turned against God, creation turned against man, and our bodies turned against themselves. Where there is sin, there is chaos. But we have a God who conquered sin to free us from the chaos and eventually bring us back into a perfectly righteous world.
Even now God is righting the wrongs of this world by making all things, even the hard things, work together for our good and His glory. Where the Lord is, there is peace. Therefore, to set our minds on the Lord is to be kept in perfect peace (Isa. 26:3). But how do I keep my mind on the Lord when there is so much distraction?
I worship Him.
If I’m worried or afraid, begrudging or uncertain, jealous or just plain overzealous, worship rights my soul. Whether I sing a song of praise to God or speak a few words of praise or turn on my favorite worship playlist, worship is like a well-trained rescue squad waiting to sweep in and take me back to God.
This doesn’t mean I have to break into a rendition of “Amazing Grace” every time my kids are running circles around the grocery store. It means my first reaction in confusion is prayer, followed by praise, followed by surrender.
Be Specific in Prayer
Where I used to just pray a quick prayer of “Help me, Lord” when life felt overwhelming, I’ve realized I need to be specific. Instead of just telling the Lord I’m scared, I confess why I’m scared. Instead of just asking the Lord to help me, I list the things I’m concerned about.
I don’t list my concerns so God will know what they are. (He already knows.) I list my concerns so that I will know. Is it really the kids that are bothering me, or am I still stewing over that conversation I had with a friend or something I saw on the news?
My thoughts are often a jumbled mess. More often than not when life feels chaotic it’s because of the chaos going on in my mind, and sifting through my thoughts helps me pinpoint the epicenter.
Naming my concerns also helps me identify and confess any sin loitering amid the chaos and keeping me from experiencing peace. Am I clinging to fear? Am I refusing to trust God? Am I more concerned about myself than God’s desires? God is faithful to forgive when we confess our sins to Him (1 John 1:9).
Be Specific with Praise
After taking inventory of what’s really making me anxious, it’s time to stuff some truth into those deep emotional crevices. Truth is the Word of God. Jesus said in John 14:6, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life.” Hence to grab hold of truth is to grab hold of Jesus.
We will not keep our focus on Jesus apart from the Word of God. This world holds a myriad of distractions, and unless we discipline ourselves to be in the Scriptures, we will lose our way.
There are days that my Bible is open right next to my cutting board while I’m cooking. With my mind swirling and my kids running around, God’s Word is a life preserver keeping me afloat. I read a few verses and cut a few carrots, and in the process, I praise God for whatever reminders of truth I’m gleaning.
I worship Him in Spirit and in truth right there amid the chaos. Offering up a sacrifice of thanksgiving and praise is experiencing the rescue only worship can give.
And then I do it again and again. It’s not enough to praise Him only once. In order to fix my gaze on Jesus, praise has to be the meditation of my heart all day long.
Surrender the Outcome to Christ
Nine times out of ten the chaos going on in my mind is caused by uncertainty of outcomes. Life feels out of control when I don’t know how circumstances are going to turn out.
Yet it’s amazing how much better I feel when I surrender the outcome to Christ. Letting go is hard, but trying to control outcomes is harder.
But what does it look like to surrender the outcome to Christ? It looks like worshipping while I wait. Whether it’s the noise of this busy world threatening to overwhelm me, or the noise of my busy mind, the answer is to dwell on the attributes of Christ instead of the chaos.
Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. (Phil. 4:8)
There is only One who fits that list completely: the Lord our God. Meditating on the excellencies of Christ softens the effects of chaos, but meditating on the effects of chaos softens our awareness of the excellencies of Christ.
I worship Him amid the chaos. I fix my eyes on Jesus. And then the peace of God, which comes from the presence of God, envelopes me instead of the chaos.