Return. Rest. Repeat.

Forest Path

“For thus says the Lord God, the Holy One of Israel: ‘In returning and rest you shall be saved; in quietness and confidence shall be your strength’” (Isa. 30:15, NKJV).

Have you experienced what I have? You’re having an amazing moment in worship. You are experiencing such a connection with God as you lift your heart up to Him. It’s glorious! Then…

The next moment, you find your brain contemplating your lunch plans. Your mind just derailed from the third heaven to muse about a slice of pizza.

I know, it can be exasperating, can’t it??

Like me, you have two options here:

  • Kick yourself. Get irritated with your inability to stay focused in on such an important moment. Shake your head and give room to all the negative thoughts flooding in about what an unworthy Christian you are. Wonder how God puts up with you.

Or,

  • Simply, return. Refocus your mind on Him. Lift your heart back up to gazing at Him. Receive the waterfall of His grace washing over you. Redirect your mind’s eye to His beauty… and continue worshipping freely.

God has generously given us the Biblical provision of “returning” (see today’s verse, above). We need to return frequently because life often distracts us from our focus on Him. All day long, constant stimuli battle for our attention. Again and again, it seems that run-of-the-mill events pull our minds away from intimacy with Him.

For someone who longs to learn to cultivate an awareness of His closeness, this can be disheartening. You know what? It’s okay! Just keep returning.

Returning will become a life-long habit for us, as we mature. The Psalmist knew this well. He used his self-talk to encourage himself in this direction: “Return to your rest, O my soul, for the Lord has dealt bountifully with you” (Ps. 116:7, NKJV). In other words, he was telling himself, “Your loving God has always waited for you with open arms! Jump back into His eager embrace!”

For some reason, this brings a blue fish named Dory to mind. She was onto something in Finding Nemo. Just substitute the word “returning” in her famous little jingle: “Just keep returning, just keep returning!”

The more you return, the more you learn to abide in Him. Again and again, return. Again and again, refocus. Slowly but surely, you will learn to spend greater and greater increments of your day aware of His closeness. Mind you, I said “slowly.” There is a lifetime of learning ahead for each of us in this area. The important thing is to keep at it.

“‘Return to me, and I will return to you,’ says the Lord All-Powerful” (Mal. 3:7, NCV).

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Extra tip: Speaking of growing in the disciple of focusing, I have something exciting to share with you!

I have recently discovered how much I absolutely love listening to audio Bibles. I tried one quite a few years back, and didn’t feel like it worked for me. Turns out, the problem was the particular narrator that did the recording. On a nudge from Holy Spirit, I tried again last month. This time, I’ve been profoundly struck by how helpful this exercise is to me. So much so, that I’ve been listening to the Bible every day since I started. I find that, listening to someone else read the Scriptures to me helps me focus in a unique way. It pulls my attention in, in a more immediate manner than when I read them myself.

I’d encourage you to try it out too! There are some great audio Bibles on Bible Gateway’s webpage, at this link: https://www.biblegateway.com/resources/audio/ . Or look for their audio Bible app in the app store 😊.

I figure — after all, Paul admonished the recipients of his epistles to make sure they were read orally to the churches! There’s something to this…

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Do you have any tips to share, that have helped you train your attention span for spiritual growth?

31 thoughts on “Return. Rest. Repeat.

  1. Amen what an encouragement! Just keep returning…. Lol!

    Oh Praise The Lord… For He is worthy and yes I have been there. Thanks for sharing! I have a tip most of us have trouble sharing Christ with others… Now it has been made easier than ever! Just Download The Yes He Is App on Your Phone. Sharing Christ is now a click away… As simple as a shared video…. Make the most of every opportunity to be used by God for the days are evil.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Aw I’m glad! I hope you are able to find a narrator that you enjoy. As I’ve been looking around lately, I’m seeing quite a number of audio Bibles out there for free, so hopefully at least one of them brings you joy! Another app I tried out just yesterday with a bunch of them on it is Bible.is 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  2. The world around us is not is filled with noises and sounds that never cease. But we can be selective. Hearing the “still quiet voice” of the Holy Spirit is a sound like no other. Have you ever been so focused on something, maybe a song, that draws all your attention, and you become isolated in that moment ? I believe we can practice and develop this same mindset with our heavenly Father. Be still and know [hear- be absorbed] THAT I AM GOD. Amen. Len

    Liked by 1 person

  3. “I figure — after all, Paul admonished the recipients of his epistles to make sure they were read orally to the churches! There’s something to this…”
    There is indeed! Of course they did not have audio Bibles in the apostles’ time, but when Christians gathered for worship, they listened to the Word being read. No so many want to follow along with the pew Bible, bulletin, or projection–they miss the experience of hearing the Word. J.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. This is definitely something that churches today could grow in and be so benefited by, isn’t it? The short attention spans cultivated by an entertainment-saturated era rob us of so much. But the effort required to re-train our focus is so worth it! Thank you so much for adding value here 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  4. To enhance devotional time in a private setting, it’s important to create your space– and be prepared to defend it! No TV, no cell phones; limit the distractions. And for consistency, make your prayer time the same time of day. Another tip I got during training: when reading, say the words in a whispered voice. Having to speak the words you see helps the concentration! — Mike

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I definitely find that during certain times of extra tiredness, I have peace to just lie down and soak to some worship music, without putting as much concerted effort into focusing my mind on the words, but just letting my spirit rest in His presence — is that the kind of thing you mean, my brother?

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Not exactly.. I was thinking sometimes if we can’t focus on worship or prayer it’s something to do with our hearts not being focused on Jesus.

        Liked by 1 person

  5. How this article has blessed me in remembering the many times this has occurred to me over the years. Sometimes I have had to drop to my knees to establish the re-focus so it was just He and I in communication. Even the music if it has distractive elements (too much focus on the singers or the musicians/organist or choir can cause the mind to wander). He always welcomes us lovingly back if we choose to surrender. Great article. Great answers. Thank you.

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    1. That’s a really good point, Faye, that even Christian music can have distractive elements to it. Maybe partly because of how easily the mind is distracted, there are many times even in corporate worship when I have to close my eyes to not be distracted by what someone else is doing in the worship service, particularly those who are the platform. Of course that’s not their intention, they are just worshipping Him too, but working on our focus is just such a life-long learning journey! Thanks so much for sharing 🙂

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  6. I’ve said it before, but I’ll say it again: Satan can speak to us in a voice that sounds exactly like ours, speaking in the first person. (“I’ll pray in a minute, but first I’ve just gotta …”)
    During a recent visit with my son and his family, I was delighted to observe that my daughter-in-law had the habit of listening to the Bible whenever she was in the kitchen – which was a lot, as she’s the mother of two small boys. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. That has got to affect her life in an AMAZING way. Wow. Inspires me. (That’s more than I have listened to it by a lot!) And yes, I have definitely made that observation about the enemy’s strategy of using the first person in our own voice. Thank You Holy Spirit for increasing wisdom to recgognize and reject this tactic!

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