Our focus in life determines our fulfillment and joy in life. We can spend our time and energy looking at the bad things or good things in life. What we are looking for determines what we see.
I remember reading about an old legend of three men. Each of them had two sacks, one tied in front and one tied in the back. All three were questioned by a visitor.
The first man explained his sacks this way – the sack on his back held all the good things that family and friends had done for hm. That way they were hidden from view. The front sack had all the bad things that had happened to him. He said he enjoyed stopping and opening the front sack and remembering the bad stuff. That man had little progress in life because he was always looking at and looking for the bad stuff.
The second man gave his explanation for the sacks. He kept all the good things in his life and good things he had done in the front sack. He said that he liked to look at them quite often. He would take them out and show them to other people. It was an encouragement to him to focus on the things that people had done for him. But he kept all his mistakes and failures and bad stuff in the sack on his back. He said they were heavy and slowed him down, but he couldn’t seem to put them down.
The third man explained his sacks. He said in the front sack he kept all the positive thoughts he had about people and the blessings he had experienced, and all the good things people had done for him. The weight was no problem – it was a blessing. That sack was like the sails of a ship – it kept him going forward.
He explained that the sack on his back was empty. He said he cut a big hole in the bottom of the sack. He put all the bad things he thought about himself and what others had said about him, and all his mistakes and failures in it. They went in one end and out the other, so he was not carrying any weight in his back sack.
Most of us fit into one of those three men’s situations. You can hide the good things and continually look at the bad things, and you will be weighted down. Like the second man, you can look at the good things, but if you still keep the bad things, the weight becomes burdensome and destructive.
Or we can be like the third man who is constantly looking at and thankful for all the good things he has received and what people have done for him. We all have bad things happen, but that’s the sack where you put the hole in it so when you put it in the sack it falls out the bottom. The third man’s journey is full of life, joy, happiness and fulfillment.
Read Luke 15:11-31 about a boy whose focus was on the material things he would get in his inheritance. It was all he could think about. He took the inheritance and wasted it. Sitting in a pigpen, his focus changed from what he didn’t have to what he could have back home. He got up from the pigpen, and as he approached his farmhouse, his father came running down the road to greet him. He welcomed his son home with open arms.
The good news of life is that our Heavenly Father is always looking for us to discover real joy, happiness and fulfillment, and He welcomes us with open arms and claims us, not as a slave who has come home, but as a son whom He loves.
Charles Dickens said, “Reflect upon your present blessings of which every man has plenty; not on your past misfortunes of which all men have some.”