My three daughters and I live in three different states. When we’re together, we take pictures to commemorate our time. I often make a photobook of our reunion and place other photos in albums I keep for my grands.

Occasionally, the four of us are off somewhere together and the only way to take a picture is to take a selfie. We do our best, but the person holding the camera is in front and her head is disproportionately larger than the rest of us. We generally miss the background documenting where we were. We wish we could have given the camera to someone else, but at the time it’s not possible. We laugh, but it’s the best we can do.

Front and center, negative thinking can dominate our days too. Larger than life, a thought, event, or experience takes residence and becomes the focal point, obscuring other positive and pleasant realities. I’m guilty of it and I need to make conscious decisions to change my focus and keep the right perspective.  I’m not alone in this. Conversations with friends confirm it.

Last week, we talked about the extraordinary treasure of our awareness of God’s presence. So, what can we do “when”?

When fear becomes my focus, I cling to God’s truth telling me “He has not given me a spirit of fear, but power, love and a sound mind. (2 Timothy 1:7)

When loneliness is my focus,, I remember God says, “I will never leave you or forsake you.”  (Hebrews 13:5

When disappointment is heavy, I remember, “Godliness with contentment is great gain.” (1 Timothy 6:6)

When news is troubling, I take confidence that The God Most High sits on the throne. (Psalm 113:5)

When I am confused, I know God encourages me to ask for wisdom and he will give it. ( James 1:5)

When I am tired, I take responsibility to rest and know He will renew my strength.  (Isaiah 40:31)

When I am distressed over failures, God promises to forgive and restore. (1 John 1:9)

When I’ve been hurt or offended, I remember God is for me. (Romans 8:31)

When my mind travels to imagining the worst case or not particularly liking the present, God says, I will keep you in perfect peace if you keep your mind on me.” (Isaiah 26:3)

When I feel unloved, God’s love remains and never ceases. (Lam. 3:22-23)

Do any of these “whens” resonate with you? How have you dealt with the focal point that dominates and distorts the “photo”?

Well into the first semester, here are 15 Timely Thoughts to Encourage College Freshmen

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