Heathdale flower 11th November 2021

A Focussed Determination

We all have a calling and mission in life. What is it that directs where you are headed?

Heathdale flower

A practice that I've cultivated over the years is to find a dedicated time once a month that I spend with each of my children. Sometimes this would involve simple activities like going for a walk together in the local park, kicking a football, playing basketball, going to the movies or even going out for breakfast. As I look back, these have been treasured times and moments where we've spoken about a whole lot of things, from the trivial to the significant.

On one such occasion, my eldest son and I were reflecting on his school days over breakfast at Macca’s. Amid us recalling various funny events, my son turned to me and said, “Dad, you know what, I think I’m ready to do Year 12 now!” Now, he was 23 at the time, so this statement did catch me a little by surprise. My response needed to be measured, so I asked him, “Why do you think you’re ready now as opposed to five years ago when you were actually in Year 12?”

I’d have to say I loved his reply. He said, “Dad, when I was in Year 12, I had no idea of what I really wanted to do. I wasn’t focussed, I dabbled in things and lacked direction. Now I know what I’d like to do.” Upon reflection, I’d have to agree.

My son, like many of us, struggled to have a clear sense of direction in his life. When we find ourselves in this situation, the way forward can sometimes feel ‘foggy’, and many of us just long to have a clear understanding or sense of direction.

I was reminded of this recently when I read the following passage from the Book of John;

'Jesus said, "I am the Bread of Life. The person who aligns with me hungers no more and thirsts no more, ever. I have told you this explicitly because even though you have seen me in action, you don't really believe me. Every person the Father gives me eventually comes running to me. And once that person is with me, I hold on and don't let go. I came down from heaven not to follow my own whim but to accomplish the will of the One who sent me.' (John 6:35-38, The Message)

One of the characteristics of Christ that I really admire is His sense of calling and understanding of the purpose God has for Him. There’s a sense of Jesus being single-minded, which many Bible Commentators describe as ‘focussed determination’, but can also be understood as a deep and clear understanding of what He has to do for God.

Even with the most casual read of the Gospels, one cannot help but notice that Jesus had a focussed determination, a deep sense of direction for His life. The first glimpse we have of this is provided by the words that He spoke, as a 12-year-old, to His mother, Mary in the Temple. “Did you not see and know that it is necessary for me to be in My Father’s House and going about my Father’s business?” (Luke 2:49)

Even as He commenced His public ministry, Jesus spoke constantly of the mission that lay before Him, namely the dying on the cross for you and me!

It is quite clear that He allowed nothing to divert Him from this understanding, this calling. As Jesus' focussed determination was evident, He strides through the Gospels, appearing to have one thing uppermost in His mind: fulfilling His Father’s will!

If I were to ask the question, ‘what is it that guides you?’, I wonder how you’d respond. What would you say is the thing that helps to direct you and provide you with a sense of focussed determination?

When I grapple with such questions, I find the Bible verse of Mark 10:45 to be of great comfort. In this verse, Jesus says, “For even the Son of Man did not come to be served but to serve, and to give His life as a ransom for many.”

I find this passage helpful especially in the light of the events that took place just before Jesus uttered these words. The mother of two of His disciples, James and John, requests of Jesus that one day in the future, one of her sons sit on His right hand and the other on His left hand. Jesus responds in a counter-intuitive way by saying that if you want to be great in God’s Kingdom, then you must be a servant; if the followers of Jesus were to have a sense of purpose, a call on their life, then they needed to become just like Jesus, and to do that, they needed to be willing to serve! This was a difficult concept for the disciples to grasp and if the truth be known, it's just as difficult for you and me, too! However, we cannot live a Godly life unless we understand what it means to live to serve God and one another.

As we look at Jesus as our example of how to serve, we discover that He did not stop serving the Father, and this is what each of us is called to do.

My prayer for each member of our fantastic community is for every person to have that focussed determination, a sense of direction in our lives. This direction is based on us being a follower of Jesus, which enables each of us to live out this calling we understand that this is the basis of our purpose. It sets the direction for our lives!

The challenge of servanthood is considerable, it’s not necessarily an easy call to follow. However, being like Jesus in this manner is actually a life-long quest and, like the Chinese proverb declares, is taken one step at a time.

As each of us take these steps, may we know God’s enabling to live with a focussed determination and fulfil the call God has placed on each of us to serve Him and each other.

Ross Grace Executive Principal