Focus on God’s Promises
How can God use you during this time to help people, and how can we focus on God’s promises instead of on life’s problems?
All one has to do is turn on the news, scroll through social media or read the headlines on Google to realize the chaos, division, and discord surrounding not just the United States, but the whole world. Instead of our leaders helping to bridge the chasm, it feels as though we’ve become further divided. Scrolling through Netflix, watching trailers for movies, or browsing the shelves at the local library further enforce messages of hate and division.
As Christian writers, we are called to rise above the noise of the masses and shine God’s light to those who need it most. But how are we expected to do this if society tries to keep our focus on negativity, division, and the “us against them” mentality? Truth is, in our own strength, we cannot.
When the pandemic hit and lockdowns began, I was reminded of the story of Esther and began wondering what my part was to play during this season.
How God Opens Doors
Then God opened a door, and I had the opportunity to co-host a podcast with my sister in Christ. We began recording the Cheer Up Podcast in January 2021 as a way to help people remember John 16:33, “These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. … In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.” We wanted to remind people that while there is chaos and discord in the world God has overcome. Because of this, we can be of good cheer despite what’s happening around us.
Unexpectedly, God opened a second door. As the lockdowns began and uncertainty and fear were around every corner, I was feeling discouraged. I felt if I needed encouragement, others probably did too. Worship music fills me up, so I would send a song and a prayer to some friends every morning, as a way to help them keep their focus on God and not on the issues staring us in the face. The list of people I sent it to grew over time, and God nudged me to create a membership where I could spread that encouragement on a bigger level. JESUS in the EVERYDAY was born out of John 10:10, “…I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly.” This membership provides a way for people to focus on how God shows up each and every day. We simply have to look for Him.
Those are two ways God used Esther’s verse “for such a time as this” in my life. Here are some ways to help you keep your focus as we walk into the new year.
Ways to Keep Your Focus in 2023
Invite God into Your Year:
Give yourself a day, or a few hours, and ask Him what projects or writing assignments He wants you to focus on. This will help you spend your time and energy wisely on the best “yeses” throughout the year instead of wasting it on assignments that are meant for someone else. It may feel like you’re wasting valuable time setting aside a day or few hours to get quiet with the Lord, but trust me, it will be time well invested that will pay dividends for years to come.
Get an “in your hands” calendar, and a good pencil.
I love Google calendar online, and use it often, but there is nothing like an “in your hands” calendar with a month-at-a-glance option to map out your goals, deadlines, and projects. I prefer buying 5-year calendars so that I can look back over the past year to see what opportunities I was given, and begin penciling in projects and assignments for the next year before the present year is finished. It is money well-spent and one of my favorite tools to stay focused.
This can occur by joining groups such as Christian Writers Collective or ACFW. Not only will you hear about more opportunities to share your writing with people who need to be encouraged, but you will stay up-to-date on new trends. I will be starting a marriage book in 2023 where I am collaborating with two other authors. By collaborating with them, it will expand our influence, help with marketing and God will use all of our unique voices and experiences to spread the message He wants told.
Pray before beginning any assignment or project. Pray as you begin writing for the day and pray as you get ready to submit your work to the publishers or market for it. The more we pray over our writing assignments, the more peace we have that God will use it for His glory and allow us to continue to write what He lays on our hearts. As Christian writers, we want to share His message and the only way to do that is to invite Him into the projects on a regular basis and keep Him the focus of our writing.
Be Willing to Change Direction
Sometimes we focus so much that we fail to listen to the still small voice of God, or our critique group, or a mentor who wants to help us course correct slightly in order for our project to be the most effective. Part of keeping the right focus is being willing to change direction if that is what God is calling us to do. I had to do that several times with the JESUS in the EVERYDAY membership and am willing to continue to tweak it if that is what it takes to make it the vision God wants instead of simply what I think is best. You will know you’re on the right course when you feel God’s peace after making the necessary changes.
Schedule Regular Times of Rest
Part of keeping the right focus is making sure to live a balanced life. That includes “putting our seat in the seat” and writing, but it also includes taking care of our health, our family, and other obligations in our lives. We can’t stay focused and finish the assignments we’re given if we’re bedbound or if family conflict has arisen because we neglected to nurture those God has loaned to us as a blessing. The more we take regular time to rest, the more focused we can be when we come back to the goal or project we’re working on.
God wants us to stay away from the distractions of the world that keep us from sharing His message with those who need it most. Which of these ways to stay focused comes easy for you? Which ways do you find more difficult to consistently practice? Are there any that you will be implementing for the first time this year? When we stay focused on our God-given assignments, it pleases the Lord. What a great way to start 2023 – pleasing God with our time, talents and purpose.
About the Author
Cheri Swalwell is Christ follower, wife, mother, writer and podcaster in that order. She is author of 30+ nonfiction and fiction books, co-host of Cheer UP Podcast and founder of JESUS in the EVERYDAY, a monthly membership to help people focus on God’s promises instead of life’s problems. Contact her at www.cheriswalwell.com or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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