Focus, Perspective, Relationship

Focus: Where are We Living?

Focus-living a bee focused on pollinated a snowball flower

@JeanneTakenaka

Does a song ever speak to you? We’ve been singing, “You Reign Above It All” for the past few weeks at church. This song speaks so vibrantly of how big, how powerful our Father is. It brought to mind an event where God began showing me the truth in this song.

Years ago, I walked into my women’s ministry office one Sunday morning after service. My heart pounded in indignation when I saw one of our volunteers sitting at my desk and rifling through some files for an outreach she and I were coordinating. 

What was she doing in my office? 

Without even asking?

Living below the situation-dark clouds are reflected in the rain they left behind

I had only worked in Women’s Ministry for a few weeks, but already she had mastered the art of digging under my skin and doing things that felt disrespectful to the role I held. My focus was stuck on her and my frustration.

I found it difficult to work with this strong-willed woman who refused to do things according to church protocol. One day, after another incident with her, I was talking with my pastor’s wife, who was an older woman in my life.

She asked something to the effect of, “Are you going to live in the situation or above the situation?”

Silhouette of a fisherman at dusk walking in the water focused on finding a fishing place

I stopped and pondered the deeper meaning behind the question. Of course I was living in the situation. I had to. 

That’s the thing, isn’t it? We may be smack in the middle of difficult situations, but our hearts don’t have to be mired in the emotions and the muck. Our focus doesn’t have to be fixed on all that is (or isn’t) going on.

Her words brought to mind the visual of being stuck in mud underneath a cloudy day, unable to move. This contrasted with an image of dwelling above clouds, viewing the situation from above, with Jesus beside me.

White puffy clouds on a backdrop of blue sky-reminders that, with Jesus, we can live above the situations in our lives

I didn’t have to allow this woman’s behavior to dictate my actions or my attitude. If I kept my focus on Jesus rather than on the woman, I could better navigate our time working together. I could glorify Jesus rather than misrepresenting Him by reacting in anger. 

When our eyes are fixed on the Lord rather than our circumstances we’ll endure and live above the situation.

We all walk through trials that bear down hard, that attempt to consume us. Regardless of what we face, we can fix our hearts on Jesus. We do this by remembering He is bigger than anything we confront this side of heaven.

A woman sitting next to a lake at sunset with a camera and lens exposed on her lap, reminding one to focus

He reigns above it all.

God is still God in all we face. Our Father’s God-hood doesn’t change with our circumstances. His omniscience isn’t altered by how we view Him in the middle of the dark spaces. Our perceptions don’t change the reality of who He is.

Meme with the words: "Our Father's God-hood doesn't change with our circumstances. His omniscience isn't altered by how we view Him in the middle of the dark spaces. Our perceptions don't change the reality of who He is." on backdrop of sun rays and bokeh and a snowball bush

When we understand that God reigns above cancer, joblessness, divorce, prodigals, and every other heartbreak, we have confidence in yielding our hearts and lives to Him. When we trust Him to move in our situations—to act on our behalf—we are learning how to live above the situation.

When we trust the Lord to move in places where we can’t, 

When we trust Him to act in ways we can’t,

When we seek to emulate Him in each hard situation,

We are letting Him reign above all that we’re facing, and we’re living above our situations.

A lake at sunset reflecting the colors from the sky, focused on reflecting beauty

This woman who volunteered in our women’s ministry continued to push as we carried out the project. But, I learned how to set boundaries so that I wasn’t sucked into frustration with her.  And, I learned to pray for her. 

When we see God working in human hearts, we know He reigns above it all. 

What about you? How has God taught you to “live above the situation?” What helps you fix your heart on Him in hard circumstances?

Click to Tweet: Regardless of what we face, we can fix our hearts on Jesus.

I’m linking up with #TellHisStory and #RaRaLinkup

33 thoughts on “Focus: Where are We Living?”

  1. You’d think, when power of speech is lost,
    it’s nowhere near a gift,
    but although there is a cost,
    I feel a lilting lift.
    My days are very quiet now;
    I have no need for broadcast voices,
    and it seems to me, somehow
    that these are better choices
    to step back from the hurly-burly,
    turn away from frantic talk
    and rise each day, yes, quite early
    for a meditation walk
    to smell the dew upon the sage,
    thankful that I’m on this page.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Andrew, this poem . . . I love it. There is frantic talk everywhere these days. I love how you are learning to quiet your inner self and to treasure the small things, like smelling the dew upon the sage. Thank you for sharing your insights and your perspective. As always, you speak to my heart, my friend.

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  2. For days now this song keeps coming into my head, “You take what the enemy meant for evil / And You turn it for good” from “See a Victory.” It’s a good one to have in mind. 🙂

    I love the question you were asked about living in the situation or above the situation. Such a great way to frame it. I can think of a few situations right now that I need to be living above, not in. Great post, Jeanne!

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  3. I love this Jeanne! We are not our situations! David Dunn’s song, Today is Beautiful, reminds me:

    “But if you lift your eyes
    See it in a different light
    Just a cloud up in the open sky
    Let the rain fall away…”

    In difficult situations, it’s been my go to song to remind me on how God calls us to look up to Him, and not loose focus. Wonderful post!

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    1. Lynn, those are beautiful lyrics! I’m going to find this song and give it a listen. I’m so thankful our Father has His perfect ways of reminding us to look up toward Him, rather than focusing on our situations. Thank you for your words and wisdom!

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  4. Jeanne, a great reminder to look vertically rather than get stuck looking at the details in the horizontal. “When our eyes are fixed on the Lord rather than our circumstances we’ll endure and live above the situation.”

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    1. Anne, I confess, I’ve done it both ways . . . focused on the situation and focused on the Lord. Focusing on Jesus is a much better way to navigate tough situations. 🙂 Thank you so much for stopping by!

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  5. Wow! That question stopped me in my tracks. “Are you going to live in the situation or above the situation?” Your pastor’s wife was a wise woman. I will remember that question the next time I find myself in a similar situation. Praying for people who rub us the wrong way is never easy, but it is what we are called to do.

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    1. Right, Laurie?! It did me too. I am blessed to have wise women in my life. And you’re right. Praying for those who are difficult is hard, but we are obedient to the Lord when we do so.

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  6. What a wise question to ask ourselves, Jeanne! “Are you going to live in the situation or above the situation?” I need to remember that and your insightful advice. I LOVE that “Our Father’s God-hood doesn’t change with our circumstances. His omniscience isn’t altered by how we view Him in the middle of the dark spaces. Our perceptions don’t change the reality of who He is.” There is such hope in this truth! And in your photos! Thank you! Love and blessings to you!

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  7. Remembering that God reigns above it all makes a big difference! It definitely helps when we can have that focus and allow him to raise our eyes above it all too. Thanks for sharing the song – I haven’t heard it before but I really like it!

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  8. Our pastors wife always gave great advice. And it always makes you think on how to deal with our situations. She is an amazing lady. But you my friend are too. You we’re my favorite women’s ministry leader. I was very proud to serve under you. God bless you and yours. We love you all dearly.

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    1. Sandy, your words and your visit blessed me! 🙂 I thank God for you. Yours was one of the first faces I encountered when we began attending that church (so many years ago!), and yours is still a face that brings me a smile. Your servant’s heart and sweet spirit are a blessing! We love you guys too!

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  9. Powerful, Jeanne. You are right that when we set out sights on Jesus, not simple earthly things, our perspective is so much better — for God’s glory!

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  10. I love the truth you share in this post and your own story of how you dove deep into discovering it through women’s ministry. Isn’t it just like God to present us with challenges to draw us closer to Him? Keep listening and learning. God loves that.

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    1. You’re right, Mary. God has ways of placing challenges in our lives that force us to look to Him, to draw closer to Him. I like how you summed it up: “Keep listening and learning.”

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  11. ‘Regardless of what we face, we can fix our hearts on Jesus.’

    No true words have been spoken, Jeanne. So apt and desperately needed no matter what we’re facing.

    I take your wisdom with me as I move ahead.

    Bless you for sharing your story …

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  12. Great wisdom and insight. I like what your pastor’s wife said about living in the situation or above it. That spoke to what I’m going through right now in my life. I’m trying to keep my focus on Jesus and let God “move in places” where I can’t.

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    1. Yes, Karen. I found great wisdom in my pastor’s wife’s words. I’ve obviously thought about them MANY times since then. I’m saying a prayer for you as you navigate your hard situation. He will be the strength of your heart and the One who moves in those places where you can’t.

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  13. Such a great message, Jeanne. I especially appreciated this thought: “His omniscience isn’t altered by how we view Him in the middle of the dark spaces.” Amen to that! And aren’t you grateful for the counsel of wise women like your pastor’s wife who help us gain perspective in the most gentle of ways? Hugs, friend.

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    1. Lois, thank you for stopping by! It’s true, isn’t it? That God is unchanging . . . always. And yes, I’m so, so grateful for wiser, older women in my life! Sending you a hug back.

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