Life can cause us to lose our focus. The busyness of this life and the myriad stressors we often place upon ourselves can blur our vision of what really matters, what really lasts, and what ultimately satisfies.
We run up the ladder, tighten our schedule, and race to the next meeting or project in order to gain that extra capital, pay that impending bill, or plan for our possible retirement. Or maybe for some of us our focus is blurred by less trivial concerns: the pile of laundry that is turning into a mountain, the unruly toddler who won’t stop tearing the house apart, or the broken head-gasket on an aging vehicle. All these sharp edges of life can slowly (or sometimes rather quickly) pull our attention off the One who has given us life and away from the beauty of the love-relationship we have in Him.
Now to be clear, the tasks of the day and the stressors that life can pile up cannot be ignored. Neglecting personal responsibility is not a sign of genuine spirituality; in fact, it’s quite the opposite. The apostle Paul wrote, “But if anyone does not provide for his own, and especially for those of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.” (1 Timothy 5:8)
So the duties of the day and the depth of our devotion to Jesus Christ are not to be at odds with one another. Instead there must be a holistic joining of the sacred and the secular. Rather than a “work life” standing separate from a “church/Christian life,” all of life is to be completely joined with the Way of Jesus and driven by His grace and truth. Scrubbing pots and pans, chasing toddlers, fixing a car, and closing a sales deal are all to be spiritual acts of worship… in relationship with the One who has given us new life. But seriously now, how does this actually work? To be honest, I all-too-often find myself grappling with ideas rather than putting them into real-life practice.
Everlynn’s Smile Lesson
Over the last six months we have been filling almost every spare moment of every week with all sorts of house repair projects, attempting to make our new-ancient house (built in 1870) into a clean and comfortable home for our little family. As our excitement turned to exhaustion I felt my focus slipping away. Can you identify?
My fuse grew shorter. My joy dissipated. Peace turned to worry and anxiety. Financial pressures tightened my stomach. It was not a pretty picture and I couldn’t stop looking at the picture. All I could see was the pile of problems and tasks and issues flooding our path.
And then our little Everlynn reminded me of a lesson I thought I had learned long ago… Each morning our now three and a half month old “baby princess” wakes up with a beautiful, big smile. Her sparkly eyes light up with the morning sun and spread joy around our house. But there is something unique about Everlynn’s infectious smile: she first sets her gaze on the eyes of those who love her. And when her eyes meet ours, then her smile beams from deep within and spreads its joy around. The amazing thing about Everlynn’s smile is that it will come no matter where we are and nearly regardless of what is going on (even if our toddler, Hudson, is screaming at the top of his lungs). When she sets her gaze on the eyes of those who love her, the smile is sure to come.
This past week God used Everlynn to remind me that the way to peace and joy in the midst of stress, anxiety, or chaos is to focus on the face of Jesus Christ. Somehow in all of the busyness of life I forgot that real joy comes when we set our gaze on the eyes of the One who loves us.
There is something unique and amazing when you and I focus on the incomparable beauty and worth of God’s Son, Jesus Christ. Fear dissipates. Worry subsides. And the smile of His joy returns.
So I encourage you: let’s focus on His face through this picture of Jesus Christ:
“For He [the Father] rescued us from the domain of darkness, and transferred us to the kingdom of His beloved Son, in whom [Jesus Christ] we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins. He is the image of the invisible God, the chief heir of all creation. For by Him all things were created, both in the heavens and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities – all things have been created through Him and for Him. He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together. He is also head of the body, the church; and He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, so that He Himself will come to have first place in everything. For it was the Father’s good pleasure for all the fullness to dwell in Him, and through Him to reconcile all things to Himself, having made peace through the blood of His cross; through Him, I say, whether things on earth or things in heaven.
And although you were formerly alienated and hostile in mind and engaged in evil deeds, yet He has now reconciled you in His fleshly body through death, in order to present you before Him holy and blameless and beyond reproach…” (Colossians 1:13-22)
Just as Everlynn finds a simple, infectious smile when looking into the eyes of those who love her, let’s focus on the One who loves us and has given us new life in His name. Instead of living a two-part, polarized life with a work-face and a church-face, let’s look at His face and live out our love for Him, regardless of where we are or what may be going on around us.
Find in Him life in all its fullness. Rest in Him through His grace. His smile may surprise you.
In Christ Alone,