As I gazed out the window of my living room on a quiet Saturday morning, only interrupted by the snoring of the dog and the humming of the appliances, I took in a deep breath to savor the moment as my eyes settled on a sight I’d never seen before.
At least a hundred times I’ve looked out this window, but I had never noticed the landscape quite this way. It was like the trees were climbing up the hillside to touch the sunrise. What changed, you may ask? The answer is simple. My focus.
Between my window and those climbing trees are a myriad of power lines traversing back and forth along with the blaring red of a stop sign on the corner and often the bustling of cars and school buses on their morning route. Sure, it was quiet without the weekday traffic, but that wasn’t the reason I saw it differently. Instead of staring at the power lines, I looked beyond them as my eyes steadied on the hillside terrain. For the first time, the power lines disappeared so completely, it was as if they weren’t even there.
At that moment, I realized how much time I lost enjoying this perfect view of God’s creation by choosing to focus on the less than perfect mess of man’s. Oh, before this particular morning, I would have defended myself by saying I wasn’t being critical, but simply observant. I’d argue that God made me that way. Yet, therein lies the problem.
Focusing on what is wrong can keep us from appreciating what is right.
Isn’t that also true when it comes to how we live out our faith? Our gaze – our focus – matters so much. Steadying our gaze on a problem fuels the grumble in our spirit. This has been true since the beginning of time. The Scriptures are filled with stories of God’s people being hung up on what is going wrong instead of seeing what was right—the gift of God’s provisions. Consider the Israelites wandering in the desert for 40 years. How many times did they tell God what they needed instead of thanking Him for what He provided (Exodus 16)? Likewise, Paul admonished the Gentiles to be thankful and content in all circumstances (Philippians 4:12)? It is human nature to focus on the faults instead of fixing our gaze on Jesus as we run this race of faith.
Therefore, since we also have such a large cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us lay aside every hindrance and the sin that so easily ensnares us. Let us run with endurance the race that lies before us, keeping our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of our faith… (Hebrews 12:1-2 CSB)
Imagine being a Hebrew, surrounded by a cloud of witnesses – those men and women whose faith legacy was passed down one generation to the next through stories about God’s provisions, from the parting of the Red Sea to manna and quail falling from the sky, to the Battle of Jericho and more. These were not Sunday morning Bible stories, but real-life testimonies.
Sister, it’s time to make a habit of looking past the power lines to see the hillside declaring the glory of God. But we can’t do this on our own. At least I know I can’t. So maybe, if we see ourselves running this race of faith together, as part of that great cloud of witnesses, we can be more intentional about spurring one another on to steady our gaze on Jesus. Let’s run to Him, sister! Let’s run hard, run with focus, and not let the distractions of life derail us from declaring His glory and aligning with the best for our lives today!
What do you typically find yourself focusing on – the problem of the world or the promises of God? Who can you ask to hold you accountable to set your focus on Jesus? If you’re struggling to shift your perspective, leave a comment and we’ll pray for you.