Focus is a key component when it comes to recognizing the subject of a picture. We prefer subjects to be sharp and clearly in focus so when the subject appears to be out of focus we find it unappealing and confusing. An out of focus subject causes the viewer to wonder exactly what the subject is or it has them straining to see the details of what is perceived to be the subject, such as a person’s face in a portrait, so that the picture makes sense. If what we perceive to be the subject is not in focus and some other point in the picture is, we’re confused about what the photographer is trying to say to us.
In life-matters when we say someone is focused we mean they have a clear understanding of who they are and where they want to go. Many times the goals they reach are achieved not only by determination but by a focus developed very early on in a person’s life. Steven Covey, in his best selling self-help book The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, called this “habit” the ability to “begin with the end in view”. To accomplish any goal, one must stay focused in order to reach the end. The subject of a picture must be focused. Even when this general rule is broken in an artistic way, the subject is still compositionally central to the picture and therefore focused.
But if focus was merely about a goal or purpose in life then I would be in a tough spot. My life has never completely followed the path I thought it was supposed to take. I have learned when it comes to a focused life in light of faith that it is not so much what you focus on, rather it is WHO you focus on. It is a rare person who knows at an early age what they are “meant to do” and does it when they reach adulthood. It can become a dangerous thing to become stuck on a life-goal that involves some sort of achievement or performance. What if something happens where you are physically unable to accomplish a goal you’ve set for yourself? I can think of several professional athletes who’ve had to struggle with something like that.
It is in fact an athletic allusion in the book of Hebrews that answers the question, “What should I focus my life on?” I have stood in the grand stadium in Athens where the ancient Olympics took place. The white Pentelic marble glistens in the sun and it is easy to imagine athletes and spectators filling the stadium before a race. The crowds chatter and watch athletes stretch and prepare their muscles for the race. Then the runners gather at the starting line. In ancient times togas and other encumbrances were tossed aside and left there so that nothing would slow the runner down. I can “see” the runners take their starting positions, crouched and ready to spring forward like a panther or leopard stalking its prey. There is a hush that comes over the crowd until a signal sets the runners off and they sprint around the track as if the wind was propelling them forward. The crowd cheers excitedly as the race is run and then finishes with a round of applause when the finish line is crossed. I think this is what the writer of Hebrews had in mind when he wrote the words of Heb. 12:1-2. If you have ever watched a runner compete you have seen the power and determination which they display while straining toward the finish line. That image matches the words of this passage to a “T”. It is a picture of focus for me. No matter what event I may be taking part in, that is, no matter what I may be “doing”, the finish line is always Jesus. He is the focus of my life.
My focus can sometimes need adjustment. It’s easy to be distracted and lose focus. In those times Christopher and Leigh’s game comes to mind. When my focus needs adjusting it’s as if Jesus cups my face in His hands, turns my gaze towards Him, and says, “Focus…focus…” Some goals can and will change with time, but my focus must remain fixed. It’s up to me to keep my focus on Jesus no matter what distractions come my way. A life focused on Him will always finish the race well (2 Tim. 4:6-8).
Ann H. LeFevre, M. Div.
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