Looking at Jesus

A devotion from Jessie:

April was a busy month for me. I had some personal issues that made it rather difficult and I also had a couple of books I needed to write.

I actually write pretty well when I’m busy. When I’m physically active, it seems to help me think better. But when I’m stressed or upset, it’s hard for me to put my personal problems out of my mind and fill it with a story.

I know some people are the opposite – they write to relieve stress. Good for them. : )

Anyway, I think you all know we have a pretty creek on our farm. My favorite spot used to be one where the water ran over the rocks and flowed into a pool. It was really pretty, especially in the summer with the green moss growing on the rocks, and it made the babbling brook sound you could hear clear up to our front porch.

Something happened to that spot, which isn’t part of my story, so I was at my second favorite spot on the creek, the little waterfall we have.

Here’s a pic I shared on Facebook:

Pretty, isn’t it?

I had a bunch of nice comments on it on Facebook. Some people said they’d love to sit there and read, and I had to agree with that. Doesn’t it give you such a nice, happy feeling?

Here’s an image, taken on the same day, with me sitting at the exact same spot as the first picture, with just a little different perspective. I did not share this one on Facebook:

Do you see them both?

So, yeah, it started to feel a little crowded and I left.

You could really get a bunch of different devotions out of this, but the one I wanted to talk about today is this: we have a choice about what we’re going to focus on.

So, I already said this, but I’m going to say it again – I took both pictures from the exact same spot. There’s a little rock shelf there, just high enough for me to sit on comfortably (as comfortable as someone can be on a rock, I guess). To my right were the snakes, straight in front of me was the view of the waterfall, barn, fence and sky. I didn’t move at all to take both pics.

When I put the first pic up on Facebook, I wasn’t trying to fool anyone or pull anything over on anyone, I just thought it was a pretty pic and I wanted to focus on the positive. And the comments were great. I think people enjoyed seeing it and it made them smile. It was a place most people would love to visit.

I think, had I put the snake picture up, people would have had the exact opposite reaction. It would NOT make them smile, and it would NOT be a place they would want to visit, right?

The spot is the same, the view is the same, but how we feel about it just depends on what we look at or focus on.

Isn’t that true in our lives?

Often we can’t change our situation, but we can change how we look at that situation.

We can’t change other people, but we can change how we look at them. That small change can totally shift our mindset and determine how we feel about the situation we’re in and even about our lives in general.

When I look at someone who is irritating me, or who has been unkind, I’m not always successful, but I try hard to look at them like Jesus does – someone worth dying for. Someone worth loving. Someone God loves. (God so loved the world…) Someone God commanded ME to love. They might not be doing what God wants them to, but if I’m not loving them, then I’m not doing what God wants me to, either, right? And it doesn’t matter who they are, a spouse, an ex, a friend who lied or hurt us, a stranger on the street. But trying to see them as God see them (and not focusing on the things they do that are wrong or irritating) should change how we feel about them.

In Hebrews, the Bible says: Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith.

It’s clear where we’re supposed to look, right? And looking at Jesus will completely change our perspective.

The Bible says in Phillipians: Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.

Now, the application is the hard part, right?

I mean, we can go all woo woo happy thoughts and it’s pretty easy. I mean, I didn’t struggle over which picture to post on Facebook.

But, when we’re irritated, when someone is bothering us, when our situation seems hopeless, when our checkbook bounces, when we’re sick, or someone we love is struggling, it’s hard to focus our eyes on Jesus and think about things that are pure, just, and lovely.

We want to complain, right? (Or is it just me?) We want to focus on the snakes.

But God has those people around us for a reason, he has us in those circumstances on purpose, He’s given us this trial for our good and His glory (we forget about His glory, but that’s the most important thing) it’s His plan and he wants us to focus on the pretty farm view – to look at Him and see the good wherever it is, so that the rest of the world can see God’s glory through us.

I admit, I struggle with this. I want to focus on ME, on how I’ve been wronged, lied to, how I’m suffering, how it’s not fair, or I want to worry (mostly about things that will never happen) and fret and complain.

It helps me to look at Jesus. The world, my problems, the things I get upset about, are just not important when I think about the people who are going to hell without someone to tell them about Jesus. I have problems, but I don’t have THAT problem, and any problems I have are minor compared to that, right?

I think about Heaven and what I want to be able to say about my life when I get there. I don’t want to be a quitter, a complainer, a fair-weather Christian. I want to be known as someone who loved Jesus more than anything. Who was faithful. Who loved with her whole heart – loved EVERYONE with her whole heart, even the hard-to-love people I’m around all the time.

When I think about standing in front of Jesus, it makes quitting, complaining, worrying, less appealing. I know He loves me no matter what I do, but I want to hear those words, “Well done, thou good and faithful servant.” I want Him to know I trusted him and had faith over fear and worry, that I was kind to people who weren’t kind to me, that I was generous in my giving and did not selfishly keep things for myself.

I want my focus to be on Jesus, on the things in life that are important and not be sidetracked by things that irritate or annoy me, but thinking on the things that are good and right and pure.

We have a choice. Honestly, the snakes are pretty compelling and I want to keep my eyes there. But God wants us to focus on Him, to let the problems of this world fade away as we behold His glory and majesty, to think about the things that are good and pure and lovely. Not only will that change our mindset at the time, but it will teach us a new pattern of thinking going forward, focusing less on ourselves, and more on God and others, which is the way it’s supposed to be.

Thanks so much for spending time with me on this beautiful Lord’s Day!

~Jessie 🌷

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