Having come to the point in my life where ‘overwhelm’ seemed to be winning its battle over ‘peaceful flow’, it became glaringly obvious that a change of focus was required. Or else. So I blocked out a day in my diary (I feel so blessed that I can do this) and booked myself into Pilgrim’s Hall, Bentwood, determined that I would not leave until I had heard the word in season that I so desperately needed.
Sometimes the few minutes or even hours we spend praying and reading the Bible everyday just doesn’t cut it.
Especially if you find that although you are somehow getting through every day you are not really living life to the full. There is also something to be said about getting away from the usual place you hang out with God and going somewhere new. A place where distractions will be at a bare minimum.
I was not disappointed. No, that’s an understatement, I had a blast (although some tears were shed, and I am not really the crying type – or so my daughter says), and came back re-focused and re-inspired. And I must add that not only did I gain new perspective in lots of areas, I left some things behind as well! These were things that had been dragging me down without my realising it.
How had I allowed myself to get to this place of quiet desperation? The answer is simple really. I had taken my eyes off the proverbial ball – in this case Jesus.
Looking away [from all that will distract] to Jesus, who is the Leader and Source of our faith [giving the first incentive for our belief] and is also its Finisher [bringing it to maturity and perfection]. He, for the joy [of obtaining the prize] that was set before Him, endured the cross, despising and ignoring the shame, and is now seated at the right hand of the throne of God.*
There has to be intentionality about what we are being asked to do in this verse if we are to be fully compliant. When my children were little it took only a few moments of being distracted by something else and before I knew it, they would be doing something they were not supposed to! Fortunately I never had the horrible experience of losing them, but there were certainly times I wish I had kept my eyes on them more closely. Like when our son drew on his Dad’s car with a stone. But that’s a story for another day.
Now I am not implying that we lose Jesus in the same way by taking our eyes off Him. But we do lose our bearings. We forget what is really important, focusing on what isn’t. We get weary and discouraged and yes – overwhelmed by life.
Today I hear Jesus saying gently but firmly:
“Look at Me.”
He cups your face lovingly with His hands, turning you away from everything else until you are looking directly into His eyes and He says:
“Look at Me. Don’t focus so much on what is happening around you. Instead look at Me. That’s where you’ll find hope, inspiration and grace to live well.”
The word ‘look’ in that verse or ‘fix your gaze’ as some translations say, means to consider attentively. It is not merely looking to see, but also to perceive. It means to know Him, be acquainted with Him and enjoy fellowship with Him.
You can’t walk circumspectly with your eyes on the ground or looking anywhere but where you are headed. You will either bump into something or someone, or worse still, end up going the wrong way. The athlete fixes his/her gaze on the finish line. Jesus is our finish line. Peter started to sink because he took his eyes of Jesus and allowed the waves to scare him. He forgot for one minute that they were the same waves that were there when he stepped out of the boat and started walking on water. It wasn’t that the waves had suddenly got bigger. His focus had just changed.
Where is your gaze right now? Do you need to re-focus? It’s only as you behold Him that will you stand any chance of becoming more like Him. Only then will you have the desire and power to go out and be the answer that the world around you is desperately seeking. You will be ‘more than conquerors’ as He has made you to be.
It is time to re-focus. If you have to go away from your normal routine to do it, then so be it. Do whatever you have to do. But just do it!
I would love to hear your thoughts. Please leave a comment below.
* Hebrews 12:2 Amplified Bible