For your daily walk and growth in Christ

Finding Focus in Overwhelm & Overflow

by | Sep 24, 2022

We all have moments of overwhelm and of overflow. Yep – you, too.

What can you do when the project or circumstance in front of you is daunting and you are overwhelming? And THEN, how can you make the most of those moments when your heart soars in overflow and inspiration?

The answer is what I call “soulical zoom”. and God is all over it.

Finding Focus in the Overwhelm & Overflow
[Finding Focus in the Overwhelm & Overflow]

Of course, as often the case, we have to address our vision problem…

My eye doctor gave me two options: trifocals lenses or dual lenses. I needed to my vision corrected both close up and far off, but I couldn’t do both with the same lens. That’s also the problem with the view of our soul.

Our spirit is in union with the Holy Spirit, while our soul – our thinking, feeling, and choosing – focuses on the externals of flesh and world OR internal spiritual union of Christ within as our life & source.

The enemy causes us to stumble when the demands and view of the world changes abruptly from the grandiose to the granular and vice versa. In those transitional moments, we often struggle and falter to external, fleshy, anxious, materialistic, despairing, or self-focused thoughts.

In other words, we often trip in the transitions.

Maybe you were enjoying worship with God one minute then struggling with traffic the next. Maybe you were excited about wonderful destination with a spouse – a date or church or a kid’s soccer game – and then got sucked into conflict on the drive.

We go from excited about the day to overwhelmed by email. We get through a task feeling accomplished and then are overwhelmed by the scale of the project with a thousand other tasks.

We can recognize these changes of scale in our focus and look at them differently: two lenses, two perspectives, both focused on Christ.

Often, when we focus on the horizon then look at a note or a map close by, our focus doesn’t change quickly enough, and things get blurry. We can actually control and exercise those muscles and learn to shift focus more quickly, but few do, and going back in forth in varying degrees of blurriness becomes the norm.

In our soul, we can learn to zoom. Soulical zoom is a function of relational dependence – having Christ as our focal point, in the immediate and mundane task and the inspirational view of grander hopes and dreams of our life.

When we find Christ in both immediate and the distant, in the task at hand and the horizon of our hopes and dreams, that relationship by grace gives focus to both. It’s “soulical zoom”.

Paul wrote of this focus in Colossians 3:17,
“And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.”

And again in speaking of choosing between what we do and don’t do, Paul wrote to Corinth:
“So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.” (1 Cor. 1:31)

So, what DO we do with God in moments of overwhelm? We zoom into focus upon Christ. We can wash the dish as an act of participating with Jesus in the moment, fully present, instead of feeling overwhelmed by the sheer volume of dishes and paperwork and maintenance tasks before us. We can zoom into participating with Him in a single step up the mountain of steps. In a very real way, we never climb a staircase, we only take a step, and then we again take a step. In this way, we take each task, each step, with Christ. He will be sufficient by grace for each one and move us to the grand view at the top – whether a mountaintop view or an uncluttered home.

But what about those huge vistas of Life and moments of overflow – where we have hopes and dreams and inspiration? We can soulically “zoom out” to see Christ there too. Our vision for our future and our kids and our career and our health need to have Christ relationally at the center as well. God wants more for my job and family and impact in the world than I do. What’s more, He has a plan for all these things. So as I am inspired to a big future or a big project or a big goal or a big hope (or struggle to find such things), I need to zoom into a focus on Christ: How will I know Him more as I trust Him moving the direction of that horizon? We DON’T embrace the exhausting lie of “hustle culture” to do more and be more so we can get more. That’s the enemy selling life from our effort and merit. Don’t buy it.

Instead, fix your eyes on Christ as the Lover of Your Soul in the grand things and the gracious sufficiency participating in in the granular things.

In this way, we can learn to more quickly trust Him in each task: do this with Jesus, and celebrate His providence, see His sovereign and divine plan worked out with us and the world.

With Him, we run the mile we are in, one at a time, through the marathon of life. But it’s also with Him, that we see the big picture and big ideas of who we are and how loved we are and what we get to be a part of in His work with people we love, a future only He can know, and His redemptive work in the world.

How is this make even more tangible and practical? How can you put this truth of soulical zoom into practice today?

When things are difficult, do one simple thing with Jesus right in front of you that moves things forward. Don’t clean the house, but just dust one console, recognizing Christ in you and with you in each movement. Don’t re-organize the storage closet if it’s overwhelming, but simply find one thing that needs a better place or to be rid of as you engage with Christ in the decision. Don’t take on a huge project, but return a single call or encourage a single step or schedule a single meeting – and do so as an “us” – you and Jesus meeting or moving or stepping together.

In contrast, when you are filled with inspiration, and pondering about the future, when the music swells within your soul, looking at the horizons of life (or daunted by them), engage with God in the grander thing, because He is not just in washing the dishes, but also in the the purpose of life that makes it worth washing the dishes – the grander vision summed up in the individual steps – that makes life truly worthwhile.

Even as many are challenged to switch from one thing to the next, challenged to shift gears very quickly, practice your soulical zoom. Look at Christ while a single thing. Zoom in closer and narrow your focus in times of overwhelm. Then zoom out farther in times of relaxing and inspiration or contemplating bigger ideas, with Christ as the Architect and goal.

In Christ, we can dream big, work small. The dream is about Him. The work is participating with Him.

In both the grand and granular Christ is the Life. Look to Him in both, and He will be the author and perfect or of your faith in both.

So in this way, when you are inspired, talk to God about the grand things of life and your future with Him, and what He is doing throughout the earth. But when you do not feel inspired, when the mountain is overwhelming, engage with God to do the single thing, change out the dishwasher, Sit with a friend, read three pages, put one thing away. Zoom in even more narrowly when overwhelmed, and zoom out even farther to Christ as you look to the horizon overflowing with hope.

In this same way, Christ is Lord of both the magnificent and the minute, the grandiose and the granular, in our lives. In all things we live from Him and for Him by grace.

While I can’t recommend all of his monkish theology, I find these three quotes of Brother Lawrence a deep awareness of the “soulical zoom” upon relationship with God in the little things in as much as the great things.  Think about each and share your thoughts below:

  1. “I have abandoned all particular forms of devotion, all prayer techniques. My only prayer practice is attention. I carry on a habitual, silent, and secret conversation with God that fills me with overwhelming joy.” – Brother Lawrence

  2. “The most holy and important practice in the spiritual life is the presence of God – that is, every moment to take a great pleasure that God is with you.” -Brother Lawrence

  3. “We ought not to be weary of doing little things for the love of God, who regards not the greatness of the work, but the love with which it is performed.” -Brother Lawrence

What transitions do you trip over? Have you ever thought of a “soulical zoom” to find Christ in the transitions of life? Share your thoughts and questions in the blog comments linked below…

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