Thursday thoughts: Don't focus on the barriers, focus on God


I feel like Interstate 85 has been under some type of construction since we moved to Jefferson, probably longer. They are now working between the Jefferson exit and the one before Jefferson. I was going to say how much I “hate” the concrete barriers they put up, but because my grandchildren are not allowed to say “hate” I will just say I strongly dislike them. 

These are the concrete barriers that take away the shoulder of the road as they are placed right beside the lane line. If you are claustrophobic and are between the concrete barrier and a tractor-trailer truck it is not fun at all. Driving beside those barriers makes me very nervous, very careful, very cautious, and forces me to drive slowly and steadily, focusing on the road ahead. 

Those barriers can make me feel trapped like there is no way out, especially when I am right beside another vehicle and against the barrier. I cannot deviate from the road otherwise I would crash either into the wall or another vehicle. For me, I almost have to block out my peripheral vision so I don’t see what is beside me in order to focus on what is directly ahead of me and where I need to go.

As I was driving to work this week and had passed the part of the construction with the concrete barriers, I felt like God was trying to teach me something through this scenario. I feel like not only myself, but every person I talk to is going through some sort of trial, and all of them are tough.

I don’t know about you, but for me it is so hard to focus when my mind is racing thinking about and dwelling on life’s pressures and problems. In my mind, I feel like I need to “work out” a solution for them and “figure out” how to resolve them. It can be overwhelming and cause me to feel very anxious. 

At times I can feel trapped by my thoughts, so to speak. If there was a picture of this trapped feeling, it could be driving between a concrete barrier and a tractor-trailer truck. So why don’t I face the problems and trials in my life like I do when I am driving in the above scenario?

For instance, when I am beside the concrete barrier it forces me to drive slower, so why not do the same when I am facing hard times?

I think that during those hectic, hard times God wants us to slow down. Take a moment to breathe. Take a moment to listen to a worship song, but most importantly take a moment to pray. When life is so out of control we need more than ever to feel connected, and who better to connect with than our Heavenly Father. Slow down!

Another thing the concrete barrier does is cause me to be careful and cautious. Why not do the same when I am facing hard times?

I don’t know about you, but at times I can let my emotions take over when I am struggling and dealing with lots of things. The worst thing I can do is make decisions when I am emotional, which is why I need to be careful and cautious during those times. If I can clear my mind and take the time to pray I am definitely more prepared to be careful and cautious with my decisions. I have to rely on my Heavenly Father to calm my emotions so I can be careful to see the problem from God’s perspective and then be cautious in my response. He can handle it. Calm down!

One of the hardest things for me driving with the concrete barriers is keeping my eyes on what is in front of me and not all around me. Why not do the same when I am facing hard times?

It can be so easy to see all the things around us that are troublesome, hard, hurtful, stressful and sometimes even heartbreaking. If we focus on those things it can be paralyzing. We must focus on the road God has us on and what is ahead. God will never leave us or forsake us. He is always there. Life is hard, but God is there.

He wants our eyes to be on Him, not the problems. He can handle my troubles, my hurts, my stresses, my heartbreak and anything else that I consider hard. I have to focus on my Heavenly Father and trust that He is in control. I can’t let my surroundings keep me from focusing on the road ahead. Can I say that again? We can’t let our surroundings keep us from focusing on the road ahead. We have to choose where our focus will be, and the best place to choose is Jesus. Focus deliberately!

You know, if you think about it, we are all still “under construction” in our life journey no matter how old we are or how long we may have walked with Jesus. There will always be barriers that we strongly dislike – maybe not concrete ones – but barriers that try to remove our focus and steal our joy.

I think if we take a moment to slow down, calm down, and focus deliberately on where God has us and is leading us, the road will not seem so hard. And just so you know, if you drive beside me and the concrete barrier on Interstate 85 I won’t wave because I won’t see you. I’ll be talking to Jesus and focusing deliberately on the road ahead!


Jill Johnson, a staff member at the Georgia Baptist Mission Board, finds spiritual applications in her everyday experiences as a wife, mother, grandmother and Georgian. Reach her at