February 2-3, 2008    

A VERTICAL FOCUS
by Charles R. Swindoll

Read Genesis 43:13-15

I wonder what those ten men, those ten grown sons of Jacob, talked about during that journey from Canaan to Egypt. I have an idea that it might have been the same things we would have talked about had we been in their sandals. I also believe these men were beginning to be broken. Perhaps they spoke of how much they missed their brother, Joseph. With Benjamin now among them, maybe they felt this was a good time to express their sorrow over their past actions and, together, sincerely request El Shaddai's power and protection. I so want to believe that God was starting to melt their hearts before Him! In fact, that's the beauty of this story as it progresses. We're led to wonder what exactly they were thinking. We so desperately want to cut to the chase to see the happy ending, but we must wait. Because there's always something to learn along the way.
 
When we're on our journey from Canaan to Egypt, we tend to be negative rather than positive. We tend to view life horizontally rather than vertically. We tend to be resistant rather than open to that which is new and unexpected. We need some course-correction techniques to break those habits!

I can think of at least three that have worked for me:

Recognize and admit your negative mentality. So much of the cure is in the confession. Immediate correction begins with honest admission.

Force a vertical focus until it begins to flow freely. I have never seen a habit just lie down, surrender, and die; we have to make a conscious effort if we hope to break longstanding habits. If you are negative today, chances are very good that when you wake up tomorrow morning you're still going to be negative. Force a vertical focus.

Stay open to a new idea for at least five minutes. Don't try it for an entire day; you might panic. Just take on your day five minutes at a time. When something new, something unexpected, confronts you, don't respond with an immediate "Nope! Never!" Wait five minutes. Hold off. Tolerate the possibility for five minutes. You will be surprised at the benefit of remaining open.

Reprinted by permission. Day by Day, Charles Swindoll, July 2005, Thomas Nelson, inc., Nashville, Tennessee. All rights reserved. Purchase "Day by Day" here.