When we lose focus <3

photo credit: Rachel Maxwell

At a recent worship service, we sang the song “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 H. Lemmel)

Every time I sing that song, I certainly make the effort to turn the eyes of my heart upward towards the face of my Lord and Savior. But I hit a brick wall because I am one who takes words literally. Since I have never seen the actual face of Jesus, it is hard to imagine looking full into it. 

With the addition in recent years of the series The Chosen, I tend to pull up a facsimile of the actor who portrays Jesus. I see dark hair and begin to try and picture the features that grew familiar as Russ and I watched several seasons of the Bible coming to life for us.

From here, my mind pipes in that he is an actor and not Jesus and thus I begin to erase any effort to try and pull the features of this human’s face into my focus. I have no temptation to try and remember the extremely Caucasian version from the painting that was supposed to be Jesus from my childhood. Copies of this famous print hung in many homes and churches, so I assumed it was the real deal. However I know now that he would not have had soft blondish brown hair and as white as me skin. 

So I sing and wrestle and feel that I must not be grasping what it is to look into the fullness of His face since I cannot quiet the circus going on in my brain. In this mental chaos, the things of earth may be growing dim, but I am quite certain the writer of this hymn did not have this method of worldly forgetfulness in the plan.

At the service I was attending that day, we were given time for some reflection following the singing, and so I asked the Lord how I could do this. How could I look full in the face of someone I have never seen in the physical realm? 

And a whispered answer came to my heart.

I see my husband every day. I see our grands and their parents several times a week. The precious faces of our daughter and son that live far from us appear daily on a photo screen we have on the counter and when I scroll through my phone. 

But if I close my eyes and try to imagine their faces, I do not get a direct image. I get pieces of who they are.

I “see” their hearts and the funny thing they said yesterday in a text, or the way they checked up on me when they thought I sounded tired. I “see” the things they do to serve others and the pain in their voices when they share a sorrow about someone who was treated wrongly. 

I “see” their character and their heart and their essence. I “see” moments shared with them over the years.

This helped me greatly. 

I know the Holy Spirit was showing me that to “turn my eyes toward Jesus” means to look to who He is and to my relationship with Him.

I can look to His Sovereignty, His mercy, His grace, His justice, His humor (because He does have one, it is evident in so many places in Scripture), His compassion, His perfect sense of right and wrong, His creativity (look around you at nature…what better artist or craftsman is there on earth?)

I can look at the times I have felt His presence comforting me or guiding me or correcting me. I can look at how His grace and compassion have reached me in the lowest places of sorrow, grief and regret.

Since that silent conversation with Him, it has become easier to turn my eyes to Him when this world is overwhelmingly hard to look at it. Not to avoid the ugly parts of the days I have been given, but to gain strength and perspective to live rightly in them. 

May God bless you today as you train your eyes to look upon Him so you can be strengthened to see clearly what is in front of you <3


PS….several of you left the sweetest comments and shared your own stories with me the last few days. I don’t feel any were for public viewing so am not posting, but I want each of you to know that you made my heart so happy. I love to hear how my stories have prompted you to remember your own. Thank you for sharing <3

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