Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Focused or Distracted?

I really like coffee and I like trying new coffee shops.  I prefer the Indy coffee houses around town but in my section of burbs, there really aren't that many.  I seem to be stuck with Starbucks, Coffee Bean and It's a Grind type joints or Indy Bagel shops that really don't do anything but blah coffee.  So last week, a couple of friends where coming into town from Globe Arizona, a small town outside of Phoenix, to pick up some folks from the airport.  They contacted me to see if I had some time to hang out with them.  Now my friends happen to work at a coffee house in Globe (Vida e Caffe) so I immediately suggested we hang out at a coffee house.  I searched the internet for an Indy coffee house close to the airport and found Drip Coffee Lounge.  It was a really cool sort of retro small coffee house so I thought I would meet my friends there for coffee and lunch.  

I arrived early, had some conversation with the owner, ordered a Latte and wow was it good.  Great micro foam and all.  As my friends arrived, we ordered lunch and proceeded to sit outside.  It was a bright warm early spring day in Phoenix so sitting outside was an easy choice.  The Drip Coffee Lounge had great coffee, good food and a nice central location but it was on a busy commercial street that saw constant heavy traffic.  I could tell that concentrating on conversation would be difficult with large trucks whizzing by and constant road noise in our ears.  

As we talked about life, loving people, church, Jesus and pain, I kept thinking that I so enjoy being with these friends from Globe that the environment of noise on the street really didn't matter.  I had to lean in more, concentrate and focus more, but the engagement was so precious that the distractions were losing the battle for my attention.  I knew I was suppose to be with these friends while drinking good coffee and mutually encouraging one another in the race that God had placed us in.  

Today, many people find it difficult to stay focused on the path of life that God has placed them.  The noise pollution is so loud that their attention and focus quietly shift to easier, less noisy paths.  Many these days talk of shifts in their in careers, addresses and relationships.  With a tough economy and building stress, the noise of life captures their attention and then a strong pull to escape creeps in.  As I sat outside on that warm early spring day, sipping coffee and having wonderful conversation, a voice did seem to whisper in my ear, inviting me to go inside where there were less distractions and clearer hearing, but I resisted.  Something about the whizzing of the cars passing by and the horns honking reminded me of the people who need the touch and message of Jesus.

As I recalled my lunch time meeting at Drip Coffee Lounge, I thought about a couple of of Jesus' conversations with His disciples in Matthew 9 and Luke 10.  In these sections of the Bible, we find Jesus sending His disciples into the cities that He Himself was about to go.  The cities were, as they are today, bustling centers of commerce.  Cities are where Jesus spent much of His time.  Cities are where most of the people are.  Cities are where there is much pollution, dirt, crime and crowds.  Jesus loves cities.

I learned a valuable lesson that day at the Drip Coffee Lounge.  I learned that when I focus on the purpose or mission that God has sent me, my surroundings are not that important or distracting.  When I focus on my surroundings and the distractions it brings, escape is typically my first thought.  Yeah, I too would like to be in a less crowded location.  For me a beach with palm trees, waves lapping at the shore and a warm tropical breeze in my face is perfect, but then I wouldn't be in the midst of people and I think in the midst of people is where Jesus would have me.  

Wherever you find yourself in life, make sure you are not being distracted by the pull of escape and isolation.  Escape is coming, in the form of forever with Jesus in a place we can only begin to imagine.  For now, we must fight to focus on the mission and task of loving God and loving people with power and love that is already at work in us (Philippians 2:13 & Colossians 1:29).  Staying focused on Christ and His mission for us, will cause the distractions to fade away.