A couple of months ago, I got up early and spent some time praying (mostly about our upcoming Foursquare convention and healing for people in our church). Towards the end of my prayer time, I passed out, hit my head, and was knocked unconscious. Unbelievable, but true! I suffered a serious concussion and damaged a part of my brain that controls my eyes’ ability to focus. For several weeks I experienced severe double vision and had to wear a pirate patch! “Ayyeee, matey!” Yeah, I looked pretty banged up. But you should have seen the other guy!
While I was recovering, the Lord taught me a lot about the importance of focusing. When I didn’t have my patch on, I’d get nauseous, run into things, and endanger myself and others (especially if I tried to drive!). It was only when I focused that I was able to accomplish my work, stay healthy, and get through the day safely.
The same is true for us spiritually. Staying focused on precisely what God has called us to do is critical to our effectiveness, health, and safety.
We see this spiritual truth illustrated in the story of Moses asking Pharaoh to release the people of Israel to go worship God in the desert. In response, Pharaoh “commanded the taskmasters over the people and their foremen, saying… ‘Let the labor be heavier on the men, and let them work at it so that they will pay no attention to false words.’” (Exodus 5:6-9). Pharaoh set taskmasters over the people to oppress them even more than he already had. As a result, the people opposed Moses, concluding that God’s words and His call on them were untrue.
In the same way, one of the enemy’s strategies against us today is to burden us heavily with things to do–the tyranny of the urgent, the demands of work, or the pressures of life. And when we’re under the affliction and oppression of the “Taskmaster,” we often question God’s words to us and His call on our lives. Our labor becomes an overwhelming burden, and we collapse under its weight. We begin to succumb to our doubt as the Taskmaster intensifies his assault. And as we labor under the Taskmaster’s yoke, we lose our strength, we lose our hope . . . and we lose our focus! We start doing a whole lot of things we weren’t meant to do.
But we weren’t created to do the work of the Taskmaster. We never were meant to labor under his yoke. Ours is the glorious calling to do the work of God by staying focused on what it is He has called us to do.
The Lord has given us individual gifts and callings. But there is one command that has remained constant from the time of His resurrection: Go, therefore, and make disciples of all the nations (Matthew 28:19). Just as the nation of Israel had a calling, so, too, does the church of Jesus Christ: Go and make disciples. This calling is neither optional nor untrue—it has been the same for all believers for all time. Staying focused on this calling is essential to accomplishing our mission, staying healthy, and ministering in an effective way.