The Shiny Object Theory

I have a theory.  Actually I have a lot of theories, but since this is a piece about focusing on the right things and not a JFK conspiracy discussion board (and, yes, Oswald acted alone), I think we should focus on only one theory.

My theory is simply this: we are fascinated by shiny objects.

We have a laser pointer.  My son likes to shine the little red light on the floor and move it around, much to the amusement of our cats who run and leap and dance in their vain attempts to catch the wiggling red point of light.

The problem is that the light is an illusion of sorts.  Yes, it is real.  It is shiny.  But it is immaterial.  The cats chase it, trying hard to clutch onto it.  But to no avail.  Still, they are focused – lasered in, if you will – on that light.  You could surround them with bowls filled with catnip, tuna and any other number of stinky feline favorites, and they wouldn’t care.  Not until that light goes away.

I believe we humans have a tendency to be fascinated by shiny objects as well.  For example, I need to change my web browser home page.  It’s still on the factory setting of a website that opens up with the news and weather for the day ahead.  Today, as I was jumping online to write this piece, the first thing I saw was presidential candidate Bernie Sanders being “surrounded” by three Secret Service men because someone tried to rush the stage at a campaign event.

I had to read this story.  I had to know how Bernie was doing.

Bernie’s fine, by the way.  And I lost three minutes of my life I will never get back.

It isn’t that I was so worried about Mr. Sanders.  Don’t misunderstand me.  I’m glad he’s ok.  But, did I need to know this info?  How does this positively impact my day?  How does this help me to positively impact the lives of others around me today?

It doesn’t.

More seriously, neither does worry.

Or doubt.

Or anxiety.

Or guilt.

These are “shiny objects”.  They grip our attention and pull our focus away from the reality of God working in our lives.  When we entertain these worries and fears, we miss out on His peace and joy and confidence.

No amount of handwringing over the past, present or future is productive, or healthy.

Instead of focusing on the what ifs and troubles that may or may not happen, focus on God.  Remember that He is with you always, no matter how rocky the road appears.

Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. – Philippians 4:8 (ESV)

Take your eyes off the shiny object, and lift your eyes and heart and mind upward to God.  It is in Him and His Word that we find the Truth about our lives and situations, about Who He is, and who we are.






9  For the eyes of the Lord run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to give strong support to those whose heart is blameless toward him. – 2 Chronicles 16:9 (ESV)

Surrender is:

a. the goal for your enemy at the end of a conflict

b. the name of the song that helped catapult the band Cheap Trick to superstardom

c. how we find strength in God

OK… the answer is all of the above. But, for what we’re talking about today, let’s focus on answer c.

Surrender isn’t easy.  It means laying ourselves aside – our goals, our plans, our egos, our anxieties – and submitting fully to God and His will.

Simple? Yes.  Easy?  Well… that’s something completely different, isn’t it?  But… surrender is entirely necessary if we are going to seek His help, guidance and peace.

We all face challenges that appear insurmountable.  Stress, work, home, family, relationships, etc…  A lot of us like to think we have it all under control.  We rely on our own strength until, one day…


Life hits the proverbial fan.  Things go south.  Circumstances change for the worse.  And we discover just how little control we have in life.  We find how vulnerable we really are.  We see that none of us truly possesses the capability to handle life on our own.

The good news: we don’t have to.  We need to look to the Lord.  We need to seek God continually.  We need to ask Him for His strength.  As a dear friend of mine put it, “Sometimes you need to go to Him hourly.  Sometimes the pain is so great that you need to ask Him, ‘Lord, please get me through this hour.”

Know this:  God is with you.  His Holy Spirit is inside you.  He is your strength.  He is your redeemer.  He is your salvation.  He is your help in time of need.  Perfect love casts out all fear, and God is perfect love.

For those who believe in God through His Son Jesus Christ, there is never a need for fear and anxiety.  We are not weak because He is strong!  He is with each of His children – always.  He has promised to never leave us, never abandon us, never forget us.

There is nothing wrong with going to God in tears, with fears and worries and doubts.  Take them to Him.  Cast them upon Him.  Ask for His strength.  Seek Him in prayer and His Word.

Surrender all to the Lord.

Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. – James 4:7 (ESV)

“I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinedresser. Every branch in me that does not bear fruit he takes away, and every branch that does bear fruit he prunes, that it may bear more fruit. Already you are clean because of the word that I have spoken to you. Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.” – John 15:1-7 (ESV)

Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you. Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. Resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same kinds of suffering are being experienced by your brotherhood throughout the world. And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you. – 1 Peter 5:6-10 (ESV)

“And call upon me in the day of trouble; I will deliver you, and you shall glorify me.” – Psalm 50:15 (ESV)

Worry Until Your Blue?


Which of you by taking thought can add one cubit unto his stature? – Matthew 6:27 (KJV)

One of my favorite pastimes is genealogy.  I love tracing back my roots, reading about my ancestors and the collective DNA over the centuries that have culminated in making my family and me.

One of my blood lines leads back to the Medici’s, the Florentine powerbroker family who gave the world three popes, two French queens and several dukes, duchesses, ya da ya da… as well as bankrolling Michelangelo’s painting of the Sistine Chapel’s ceiling.  (Of course, my direct lineage traces back to one of the lesser knowns of the Medici dynasty: Spanky diMedici, first night manager of a Taco Bell just off the A11 expressway outside Quaratta.  You can still see his name engraved on a plaque that hangs just outside the restaurant’s men’s room: Spanky diMedici, Employee of the Month, October 1497.)

Another line leads back to William “Braveheart” Wallace.  Quite ironic, given the fact that I have a propensity for worry.

And I come from a long line of worriers.  Indeed, I don’t think I could paint my face blue enough for anyone to look at me and say, “Hey!  You must be a descendent of William “Braveheart” Wallace!”  (I doubt I could even be mistaken for a member of the Blue Man Group.)

Worry is no fun, to say the least.  It sucks the life right of us.  For me, a lot of my worry is rooted in uncertainty.  Control freaks tend to be worriers (and vice versa).  And when we don’t know the outcome of a certain situation, we try to control it.  And when we discover we truly have no control, we worry.

Worry is foolish.  God is in control of everything.  He didn’t just create the universe, set the world a-spin and walk away with a “Best of luck!”  He is our sustainer as well.  He cares for His creation.

He cares for His children.

In Matthew 6, Jesus makes it explicitly clear that the Lord cares for us and tends to us.

25  “Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? 26  Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? 27 And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life? 28 And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, 29 yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. 30 But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? 31 Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32 For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. 33 But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. 34  “Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble. – Matthew 6:25-34 (ESV)

I love verse 27.  While the ESV makes it clear that worry won’t add one second to your life (in fact, just the opposite), it’s the King James rendering – that worry can’t add one cubit to your stature – that really got my attention.

You see, life is filled with circumstances and events and stuff that we have no control over.  Some of it is good.  Some bad.  But even the bad can be made good by God.

We are not called to be in control.  We are called to be faithful.  We are called to trust in the Lord.  We are instructed to cast our cares on Him and walk by faith, not by sight.  When we face life, and all its difficulties and adversities and troubles, we have two options: sit and worry, or trust God with the outcome.

Trust God to see us through the storm.

Just trust God no matter how things appear.

When we trust God through hardships and trials, we grow.  God grows our faith, makes us stronger.  He shows us that He has things well in hand, despite appearances to the contrary.  It is in faithfully facing adversity that we grow.  When we choose to worry, our growth is stunted.

And, yes, worry is a choice.  Perhaps not entirely a conscious one, but it is a choice.

The next time you catch yourself toiling over some situation or problem, don’t let worry overcome your thoughts.  Stop.  Pray.  Remember that God is in control.  You don’t need to worry.  If you can do something positive about the situation, do it and don’t worry.  If it is entirely out of your hands, cast it on the Lord and don’t worry.

Stay in His Word daily.  Pray without ceasing.  Love others with your whole heart, and know that you are loved.

Now… where did I put that be spray paint?

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All Inclusive

…cast all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you. – 1 Peter 5:7 (ESV)

Cast: To aim and throw at your target, with great purpose.  Like an angler casting at the perfect spot where the bass bite.

All:  All.  Every.  Each and every.  Regardless of cause.  Regardless of reason.  Regardless of anything.  No matter what.  No.  Matter.  What.  The sum.  The whole.  The entirety.  All inclusive.

All.  All.


Your anxieties: Your worries.  Your cares.  Your fears.  Your doubts.  Whatever it is that is distracting you.

Upon Him: On God.  Your Father.  Full of grace and mercy.  Able to handle any situation.  Ready to forgive every sin.  With His arms open wide to receive you, His child.  Love Himself.

Because He cares for you:  He is concerned for you.  He loves you.  And it is personal.  He loves all of His children, individually and as a whole.  He is with you always.  There is nothing beyond His grasp.  He loves you.




Now… put it all together.  And walk boldly, and confidently, with great thanksgiving and joy, casting every anxiety, worry, fear and doubt on the Lord, because He cares for you.