I walked a path the other day with my children. It was littered with droppings and mud, puddles interspersed. Parts of it were misshapen, broken and cracking with the roots of trees running underneath. Watching my footsteps seemed like an important task until I lifted my eyes and saw the beauty surrounding me. Dozens of trees arched their gentle arms over the paths. Elegant geese smoothly alighted on the water. The dappled pond reflected the myriad colors of earth and sky. And a gentle mist settled over us all. Further down the path were the bobbing heads of my children, thrown back in laughter, breathless and exuberant.
If I had pragmatically kept my eyes on the path, I would have missed the beauty. The grime and challenges of the path were equally as true as the splendor of God’s creation. They were there simultaneously, juxtaposed. It was my focus that needed to change.
And I think I struggle similarly in my own life, to lift my gaze from the heartaches, the messy work, the burdens of this life, to the glory of His face. Both are there. Both are true. But which do I set my gaze upon?
Paul says it like this, “If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth” (Colossians 3:1-2). The Hebrews author likewise urges us to look “to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God” (12:2).
Because, when we lift our gaze to the face of Christ, we find the warmth and comfort of being in His presence.
O soul, are you weary and troubled?
No light in the darkness you see?
There’s light for a look at the Savior,
And life more abundant and free.
Turn your eyes upon Jesus,
Look full in His wonderful face,
And the things of earth will grow strangely dim,
In the light of His glory and grace.
~ Helen Lemmel