I’ve always had a tough time with those Magic Eye pictures. You’ve probably seen them. You start looking at a regular two-dimensional scene and then try to relax your focus. Suddenly a three-dimensional horse or dragonfly shows up. Everyone in the room exclaims “Oh, I see it now.” Except for me. I’m left still looking at a mass of colored dots. It’s all a question of being able to focus correctly.
The importance of focus
The story of the lame man at the pool points out the importance of focus. Each character in the story is paying attention to a different reality. An invalid for 38 years, the man’s focus has been narrowed by years of discouragement and despair. He is centered on his past failures (“Someone always beats me”) and present weakness (“I have no one to help me”). On the edges of the crowd, the Pharisees are blinded by their focus on clever human theologies and their community standing.
But, like His father, Jesus refuses to lose his focus on the human heart. “Do you want to get well?” There comes a time in all of our struggles when we need to refocus our attention on the grace of God standing right in front of us. We are brought to a place of hard decision. Do we want to change or do we really just want sympathy? Will we take an honest look at ourselves or focus on our excuses? Are we willing to look beyond our own failures and weakness and see Jesus standing before us, ready and willing to heal and to set us on our feet?
Regaining our focus
God’s presence and work can be easy to miss. Early believers created a simple exercise to help them refocus on God at the end of the day. It involved remembering the conversations had, the people met, the struggles faced, the beauty seen and then asking the Lord to move our focus back where it belongs: to see him and recognize his work in our lives.
Ask yourself: “Where was the Lord working in my life today?”
Written by Beth Pocock
Artwork by Jyoti Sahi, Lord of Creation, 1982, Gouache on paper, 14 3/4 × 20 in. Collection of Victoria Emily Jones. https://artandtheology.org/2020/10/25/roundup-jesus-as-dancer-the-daily-prayer-project-ethnoarts-in-indonesia-and-more/