I have been struggling with my focus recently. I mean, more than normal. Usually my focus leaves something to be desired anyway, but in recent months I haven’t been able to stay grounded on one topic long enough to finish anything. Maybe I’m too busy. Maybe I have too many things going on. Maybe I finally reached the limit of how much multitasking I can actually do, and my brain has given up trying to keep it all straight.
Granted, it’s not like I’m late to work or forgetting about responsibilities or anything like that. I just don’t feel like I’m getting as much done as I should be. And when I sit down to work on a project that’s hanging over my head, I can focus for about five minutes. And then my brain wanders off to something else. And as a result, I don’t finish anything, and I actually start more projects.
What’s wrong with me?
Today’s verse is Ephesians 5:16-17.
Make the most of every opportunity in these evil days. Don’t act thoughtlessly, but understand what the Lord wants you to do.
It’s easy to forget that we’re on the clock. It’s easy to get trapped in the thinking that life will move forward as it always has. But a day is coming when life is going to change drastically, and when that day comes, we will be out of time to accomplish real things that matter.
I live in the middle of 640 acres of wheat and alfalfa. None of it belongs to me, sadly, but through the 18 years I’ve lived here, I’ve enjoyed learning about how different farm life is from life in the city. In the city, you can procrastinate for extraordinary lengths of time because of all the conveniences. But out here? Not so much. If you have an opportunity to get something done on a specific day, out here, you need to do it. Because if the opportunity passes you by, it may not come again until it’s too late.
Making hay is one of those things. I’m sure many people have heard the idiom, “making hay while the sun shines.” I first heard it in the Laura Ingalls Wilder book, The Long Winter. But the concept of making hay on a sunny day is exactly what this verse is talking about. You can’t make hay when it’s raining. The hay gets moist and hard to handle, and then it molds. You have to make hay while it’s sunny. You have to take the opportunity when it presents itself, and you can’t put it off. Otherwise, you’ll lose it, and it probably won’t come around again.
I have so much to do. I have so many projects on the back burner and not enough time in my lifetime to accomplish them all, and when I get the time to work on them, the load is so overwhelming I don’t even try. Does anyone else understand how that feels? Maybe it’s work. Maybe it’s school. Maybe it’s family or friends. But you have so many responsibilities on you that it seems futile to even try to make any progress because it won’t make a difference. It’s a horrible feeling.
So what do we do? How can make the most of every opportunity and stay sane? I think I’ve tried to take every opportunity that’s come my way, and as a result I’m drowning. I’ve been treading water for years. Maybe that’s why verse 16 is followed by verse 17.
Don’t act thoughtlessly. In the Amplified Version, that means “vague, thoughtless, foolish.”
If you’re going to take an opportunity, know what it’s going to require of you first. Know how much of yourself you’re going to have to invest before you agree to do it. And if you don’t have enough of yourself to give, don’t take it. Because a good opportunity can easily become a distraction.
We can’t just live life without thinking. We can’t just agree to everything that comes our way because eventually we’ll hit a wall, and then all the opportunities we’ve agree to accomplish will lay uselessly on the side of the road waiting for you to finish them when you no longer have any interest in them because you’re so burned out on everything else.
So maybe it’s clear how to avoid jumping into opportunities you don’t have time for. But what do you do when you’re neck-deep in something you can’t give up on?
Well … the verse doesn’t say you have to finish it, I guess. It just says to make the most of it.
Do your best. Prioritize. Step back from the whole mess and sort through everything you want to accomplish and decide what matters most, and then focus on that and let everything else go. Then, when you finish it, move on to the next thing. And when you’re tempted to move to something else? Think about before you start it. Ask yourself if it’s really an opportunity or if it’s just a distraction.
You can eat an elephant, but you have to do it a bite at a time.