It’s important to consider / take an inventory of the thoughts that we allow to run around in our minds. Such thoughts can have a significant impact on our decisions & behaviors. For example, there have been many occassions where I’ve been in situations that were way beyond my skill set & I was in way over my head (sometimes in various leadership roles, sometimes in athletic competitions & often in my role as a mom). There have also been situations where I’ve felt entirely confident, secure & proficient, to the point of being over-confident, cocky & even arrogant.
What we think in our minds is extremely important & I was reminded of this lesson from reading about the woman with the issue of blood in Matthew 9:21. In this verse it says, “. . . . ‘she said in herself, if I can touch the hem of His garment, I will be healed.'” The outcome of the story is that she was healed, but her mindset was an important ingredient for her healing. Some take aways from her internal conversation:
keep your eyes on Jesus more than fear, inabilty or even talent
I was recently in Ethiopia & on a drive into the countryside, we took a pause to get out & stretch our legs. As I was enjoying the nice weather, beautiful surroundings, listening to new bird sounds and taking in some nice fresh air, I quickly became alert that I needed to watch where I was stepping because of some conveniently deposited refuse from nearby wildlife (translation: cow pies). Nimble is a word that comes to mind as I write this
Sometimes we can get really focused in on our daily living and endeavoring the various “cow pies” that can unexpectedly jump onto our path. Of course we must be careful where & how we walk (making wise & spiritual choices), but let’s also lift up our eyes & look up. It’s really tempting to go through life looking for ways to avoid cow pies, but that’s never as rewarding as going through life with our eyes on Jesus, our Good Shepherd
I’ve always thought it was cool how superman could see through stuff like walls, metal chests & more. He could see through things that had substance.
In a similar way, I’d like to see through the immediate to the ultimate. Sometimes I get fixated on the temporal: budgets, pressure, bad grades, trying to get in shape & more. I’ve found it immensely helpful to look beyond the immediate struggles & keep my eyes on Jesus my ultimate passion. Yes, there are deadlines, struggles, pressures, disappointments & more. But if we ask God to help us see through the immediate to the ultimate, then the immediate can receive the proper perspective adjustment & become less overwhelming
Holy Cow! That was Jeroboam’s solution to help him stay in power as the king of Israel, even though God had obviously put him in this position. I was reading this morning (1 Kings 7) about how God spoke to Jeroboam through a prophet & told him that he was going to be the king of Israel. When Jeroboam became the king, he got really jittery about keeping his power & decided that his kingdom needed it’s own set of gods, festival days, worship routines, etc that would exclude anything from the Temple in Jerusalem or the worship of the true God, as outlined by Moses.
Jeroboam was put in the position of king by God’s power but he didn’t stay long because he decided to trust in his own methods & efforts rather than trusting in God. In my thinking, there’s no staying power of any lasting value that doesn’t include trusting in our Triune God
One of my favorite guys who did amazing illusion work was Escher. Whenever I look at his work, it always takes me some time to pause and think about what I’m seeing or not seeing. This idea about considering what we are looking at is really important, particularly when we look at people. Jesus was really good at seeing people beyond any optical illusions – He sees directly into our hearts and knows us for who we really are & continues to love us deeply & wholly. Let’s endeavor to see people beyond any optical illusions, filters, false pretensions or misconceptions. Let’s see people through the lense of genuine love
I took my son to the eye doctor today to see what corrections he may need & guess what?! His eyes have changed – ALOT! Basically, his long distance vision is blurry at best & more often non-existent. Thankfully, the eye doctor is extremely good & very patient, as my son can be kind of engergetic. He’ll get some glasses in the next week or so and will probably be really amazed at the significant improvement that he’ll see.
I think that sometimes our walk with God can be a little bit like our natural vision: we can be near-sighted or sometimes far-sighted. But no matter where we focus best, we can be totally certain that God is always with us regardless of what we see or where we focus
I like to watch people in lots of different places – starbucks, airports, grocery stores, etc. Sometimes when I watch people I’m awestruck at how beautiful & magnificent each person is. Some people have beautiful eyes or beautiful hair. Some people have rustic beauty & others are beautiful because of their regal stature. But people are beautiful – made in the image of our Creator & everywhere, they are beautiful, way beyond being broken
For whatever reason, I woke up feeling very perky at 4am today. Obviously it was still dark when I came downstairs to get the morning coffee brewing. And as I sat on the couch with the lights off, I looked up at the window & noticed the bright & beautiful half moon. I started thinking about the moon & how I could only see half, but knowing that the moon merely reflects different amounts of the sun – a sliver, quarter, half, 3/4, whole. Nevertheless, no matter how much of the moon we see, we absolutely know that it’s a whole object & not only the part that we see. Furthermore, the longer I sat & observed, the moon was soon blocked by our house as the earth rotates toward the sunrise.
So from my early morning observations of the moon, here are a few take-aways:
just because we only see parts & slivers of God’s work doesn’t mean that God isn’t wholly working & doing things throughout our lives – even in the seasons when we can’t see any direct evidence
sometimes situations “block” our ability to see God & in these instances, we can trust that God loves us & is continuing to shine & work in our lives
I recently read about when the Jews left their slavery in Egypt & I came across an interesting verse, when they were being chased by Pharoah. At the end of Ex 14:12, the Jews are complaining to Moses & they say something like, “It would have been better to stay as slaves in Egypt than to die here in the wilderness.” I started thinking about this & it really hit me that they only saw 2 options: slavery or death.
Unfortunately, I think we make the same mistake when we exclude God from His involvement in our lives. Truly, without God’s participation & involvement in our lives, we face the same kinds of options that the Jewish people saw at that time. In contrast, it seems to me that the more we involve God in our lives, the greater the adventures, miracles, shock and awe!! So let’s make sure to include God more & more in our lives
I’ve been thinking alot about having clear vision – maybe this has been on my mind because I’ve been looking for one of my kids’ glasses
Nevertheless, seeing things clearly is extremely important. The clearest & most truthful vision is when we see as God sees, from His point of view. With this in mind, I’m praying Prov 20:12 for this year – that God let’s me see & hear as He sees & hears. Human perspective is fuzzy, unclear & opaque at best, but God knows & sees the truth and I want to see as He sees for 2012 & beyond
When I get into some stressful situations or seasons my focus can get kind whacky. In these seasons, I sometimes allow myself to distracted on peripheral & meaningless stuff or I’ll dig into a book or sometimes I ramp up my music intake.
As I start looking forward to the upcoming holiday season, I can feel myself getting “jittery”.
So what I would like to do better in these stressful seasons & situations is to keep my focus on Jesus more & less on the stress. Some ways that help me to keep my focus on Jesus better include:
*remembering some key Bible verses like Ps 55:22 & Ps 54:4 (telling myself these verses when I’m getting jittery
*be thankful – when I start to compile a “thankful list”, I often find that any stress gets lessened
*consider the immensity of God in relation to the things I’m uptight about
*church – there’s a very unique experience when I’m involved in a community that’s is collectively focused on worshipping Jesus. This helps my focus in ways I haven’t yet been able to put into words
Focus is key
I made a comment this morning on my fb page about how it helps to hear God when we are still & quiet. I wanted to follow up on this comment because I think that for many of us, it’s difficult to be still & quiet. We live in a really busy, loud, active & demanding world. Between our smart phones, the internet, twitter, conventional media, family schedules & demands, etc, it can be seemingly impossible to find quiet & still. Furthermore, when we do get a moment to catch our breath, our mind is usually racing trying to organize schedules, figure out what we need to do next, hum a favorite tune, etc. Still & quiet seem like elusive & ethereal ideals for people that have lived in a different era or even a different planet.
But for me, still & quiet is essential and it takes some intentionality. For me, I’ve found it super helpful to get up early before everyone else to acquire some stillness before the demands of the day hit the fan. Furthermore, I am also intentional about when & how much music & external stuff I listen to, focus being the operative word.
When I’m still & quiet, with God’s help, I focus my attention toward God with the intent of giving the Trinity my undivided attention (without distraction, interruption or competition). I need to wholly be with my Creator & yes, this requires discipline, some failures & some successes. But the rewards of greater intimacy & fellowship with God are indescribably worth the efforts & discipline – indeed, living water, breath of life & more.
I took my son to the eye dr today because he’s been a bit challenged with a few things. When they checked his eyes, they were super thorough & examined his vision for both distance & close up. This eye dr visit is a whole new thing for me because I’ve never had any issues with my eyes. Nevertheless, it made me think about my focus as it pertains to faith. Myopic vision is vision that can see pretty well up close, but not so well far away. The opposite is true with far-sightedness.
I think that the same is sometimes true with our faith. Sometimes, it seems like I can have strong faith for what could be an immediate & up close challenge, but struggle in my faith for what seems far away (like some concerns about the future or places where I may be traveling, etc). Or maybe the opposite is more true for you – maybe you struggle with your faith in the immediate day-to-day challenges, but the stuff that’s more distant is much easier for your faith. Whatever may be your challenge, we can trust that God is the best vision Dr & can help us to keep our eyes on Him for both the up close & immediate stuff, as well as the things that are farther away & distant. So like it says in Hebrews 12 – let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author & perfecter of our faith