Another guest post by my friend and former student Joy Dahl. Thanks, Joy.
Have you ever been watching someone in a mall or store, you glance away for a split second, and when you turn back that person is gone? It’s as if they vanished into thin air. Your eyes scan the area searching, searching… Anyone with young children experiences this regularly. Absence triggers panic as we frantically look for our lost ones. Peace doesn’t return until everyone is accounted for.
Kids or no kids, a similar panic engulfs each of us when our circumstances swirl.
A lost job. A contentious marriage or dating relationship. Bills that can’t be paid. An ominous diagnosis. A bully that won’t quit. Pain too deep to share. Loneliness. Emptiness. Boredom. Regret and shame that won’t set us free. Our circumstances may vary but the fear, sorrow, and despair we feel are real.How do we rise above our real life circumstances in order to move forward with peace and hope?
I heard a story recently about a class at a Christian college. Two chairs were side by side in the front of the auditorium with two men sitting in them. The professor instructed the class to stay focused on both men. But then the men stood up and started walking in opposite directions. The students had to choose which man to follow because it was impossible to look back and forth when the men left the room and went down separate hallways. At the end of the exercise the professor told the class that these men represented Jesus and their circumstances.
The lesson: It’s impossible to fix our eyes on both Jesus AND our circumstances. We have to pick one or the other. And if we choose to focus on our circumstances, suddenly it’s as if Jesus is gone.
Two opposite choices. Jesus leads us forward on a less-traveled path of peace and hope. Our circumstances take us down a twisting, well-worn road of uncertainty and fear. We know which one we’d rather choose. But how can we stay focused on Jesus? One way is to stop rewinding the tapes in our mind of what’s going wrong. It’s easy to hit replay, replay, replay. What if instead we hit pause on our circumstances and set our minds on Jesus? He is our loving Shepherd who leads us through the darkest times to the other side of our circumstances. Consider reading and praying through Psalm 23, focusing on the care of the Shepherd. Or take some time to meditate on Jesus loving you so much He died for you. He died for all of us. The joy of spending eternity with us eclipsed the horrific circumstances He endured.
Life’s storms can jolt even the “strongest” Christ-follower. But through Jesus’ strength, we can endure our circumstances as we continue to walk through them with our Good Shepherd.
No matter where we are in life and no matter where we’ve been, Jesus is ready to lead us forward. But we have to keep our eyes fixed on Him. No switching back and forth between Jesus and circumstances. We must pick just one. Choosing Jesus will make all the difference.
Who or what are you focusing on today?
“Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfector of our faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider Him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.” Hebrews 12:2-3