Sunday, January 22, 2017

Fixing My Eyes

I had my annual eye exam last week. Not much had changed in my prescription in the last year but I wanted to get them checked before I ordered a new pair of glasses that didn't come real cheap. With my farsightedness, I can't really read anything without my contact lenses or glasses...but though my eyes are farsighted, my faith has a different problem. My faith tends to be a little more myopic--uncreative and narrow-minded if you will. I want that to be different in my life this year, and I've been having to work out what that is going to mean for me. It's going to mean focus and it's going to mean intentionality. To fix my faith, it's going to mean fixing my eyes.

When 2017 started, I was coming off a rough year. It was definitely one of the best years of my life. I got engaged and married and everything else that goes along with those once-in-a-lifetime rewarding and euphoric events. In the world's eye I had everything I needed and more, and don't get me wrong...I really was happy. But spiritually I struggled. Not with any one thing in particular. Honestly put? Jesus and I just had a lot to work through together. In the few years before, I had seen the Lord work in my life in ways that I couldn't even begin to explain. He rescued me from the darkest place of my life, He redeemed the pain of my past, and He restored my life. That's my story in a nutshell, and I'll tell it as long as He lets me.

But when you experience something fairly traumatic like I did, life in the aftermath can leave you a little numb. Every day life of getting out of bed and going to work and coming home and taking care of family & home matters and going back to bed. It gets redundant. It feels like you're going through the motions. You wonder what else you are supposed to be doing with your life. Hey God, why aren't You sending me to the front lines? Am I missing something? Am I letting You down? It feels like you're misreading God. Maybe that was just me asking those questions. But in case you have felt the same, then hear me: there is something holy in doing every day , intentional life. Every day life is where the gospel is lived out. And I've had to fix my eyes to learn that truth. How, you ask?

Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking 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. Hebrews 12:1-2, emphasis mine
Every day life this side of eternity will never be all that we want it to be. It just won't. This very part of Scripture teaches us that Jesus is the perfecter of our faith. Here's a bright idea: If we were already perfect, then we wouldn't need our Savior. And even though this eventual perfection of our faith through Him will not be fully realized until the Last Day, I can look to Him in the nitty-gritty mess of my every day life and know that I'm somehow going to be okay. Come what may in my life, my Savior endured the cross for me and is seated at God's right hand. I mean, that has to be enough for us.

The liberation I have found in my life from simply looking to Jesus cannot be over-emphasized. There comes a point when you have to stop looking to the world for how your own life is supposed to look...and just listen to what the Lord says. Speak Scripture into your life. Pray over your life. Shift the paradigm. The world is full of pressure, friend, and it's enough to break us if we would let it. And there's been times in my life when I almost have let it, but praise to God that He loves me too much to let me get too far away. (Even when I run!)

So I'm figuring out maybe this is 2017's cure for myopic faith? Just Jesus. Nothing more. Nothing less. Fixing my eyes. I don't know exactly how that is "supposed" to look but something tells me that He is going to help me figure it out. I am working through it every day--often preaching the gospel to myself. I call it the gospel in real time. Because yes the gospel of Scripture matters, but if it doesn't translate over into our present-day lives (issues and problems and messes included) then what's even the point anyways? He came to save a wretch like me.

I'm learning to fix my eyes by being intentional. Part of what this means for me is being intentional about what I believe and why. I don't want to take my faith for granted. I want to know why I know what I know. I'm working my way through the entire Word. I'm a little over half way...and loving every verse. I want more. I want Him. And I think coming to that desire is part of what faith is all about it. It's not me by any means. I pray just about daily that Jesus would be my driving desire. Not my work in critical care nursing. Not my family or friends. Not even my husband. I need Jesus first and foremost...and all that my faith in Him entails...or everything else in my life that I just listed (and more) is going to be severely off-centered and out of whack. Been there, done that.

I'm not only trying to be intentional about my beliefs, but another prominent one for me is my time. There is no right answer here--figure out what works for you and how to best spend time in your specific season of life. It's pretty clear for me, yet keep in mind this might look different for you. With conflicting work schedules, I have to be intentional about spending time with my husband or we would only ever see each other at bedtime. I have to be intentional about staying in touch with those closest and most important to me. I have to be intentional about putting down my dang phone! That one is huge for me, and it frustrates me that it's so difficult. I wish it were easier to disconnect--I'm working on it. I have to be intentional about my calling in healthcare. There are no words to accurately describe working as a nurse in critical care. It's all emotions rolled into one and then stomped makes you mad, it frustrates you, it rips your heart out, it wears it out, but oh how it rewards you! In the days I feel like throwing in the towel, I remember that I really can't imagine doing anything else during this season of my life. But my work is another story for another time.

Most importantly, I have to be intentional about my time with Jesus. I about beat myself up at the end of last year over not consistently getting up early enough (read 5:30 AM) to do my quiet time every day before work. Enter grace. I can still spend time with Jesus daily without being a Quiet Time Nazi. He still meets with me. I have just made a general habit of setting aside some kind of time daily to spend with the Word of Life--sans legalism. I also take time at the end of every night to write down three things He gifted me that day. Some material things, some conversational things, some observations, and some inner things. But all gifts to me as a sign of His love and care for me. I am also getting to work on memorizing an entire book of the Bible. All of these different methods of being intentional are changing my heart in ways I never expected. That credit's due Him.

All this to say? Life really isn't worth much without fixing our eyes on Jesus. Trust me, I've tried. No matter what our eye prescription says, however myopic or hyperopic it may be, we must focus in on Jesus...or our vision is going to be blurry. The Bible says that where there is no vision, the people perish (Proverbs 29:18). May we not perish because we missed Him. In these very critical times of division and destruction and devastation, looking to Jesus will undoubtedly prove to be our only saving grace. May we focus in on Him alone and allow everything else to fall in its proper place behind.

As 2017 carries on, this will be my prayer. My daily eye exam if you will. Oh to have 20/20 spiritual vision! Who knew Jesus the carpenter would also become our Savior the optometrist?

Jesus, please fix my eyes.

Then I shall not be put to shame, having my eyes fixed on all your commandments. I will mediate on your precepts and fix my eyes on your ways. Open my eyes, that I may behold wondrous things out of your law. I am a sojourner on the earth; hide not your commandments from me! Psalm 119: 6, 15, 18-19

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