I set this blog site up a good while back without knowing exactly what I wanted to do with it. I’ve never done the blog-writer circuit. Well, not exactly. Back in 2003, I think, I started writing posts on a Christian dating website. I had started writing daily posts that focused on discovering and noticing moments of goodness throughout my day. At the time, I had never heard of the concept of a blog. Regardless, I had started asking myself at that time a useful and illuminating question: What was the best thing — or at least something genuinely good — that happened today? And then I started asking other people the same question. The stories were fascinating and good for the soul.
What it became for me, at least, was a discipline — a discipline in writing and, more importantly, in training the eyes of my heart to be thankful, receptive and open.
And so here I am, years later, feeling a desire to start writing again, though maybe it has more to do with the stretching the eyes of my heart open a little wider again.
Because that’s really what I’m most interested in. At times, it seems everything in our modern world is stacked against keeping those eyes open.
This morning Pastor Gary talked about our desires, specifically about getting God’s desires into our hearts and the transformation that takes place in the process — in the renewing of our minds. Something amazing happens as the Holy Spirit does this work. It’s beyond ourselves, our efforts, and usually our fears, too. There was something expansive and breathtaking stirring in my heart during the sermon this morning. An excitement. An excitement for what God wants to do though me — and to me.
For more than a year, God has been telling me something very specific: to put my eyes on Him. I confess it’s taken a long time for me to begin understanding — in the sense that He intends it — the importance of this discipline. And I’m sure I have a long way to go. But I am convinced He’s calling me to look at Him, to Him, and through Him. And He’s not calling me to this just because He has a narcissistic desire to be seen or to control me. No, He knows what He can accomplish through me when I have my eyes on Him. He knows how I can be transformed.
Pastor Gary shared an example of an experience that happened to his 17-year-old son back in the early nineties. His son was on a trip in war-torn Liberia, serving a population suffering from a civil war. One night his son heard God’s voice tell him there was water underneath him. But God didn’t hurl down a thunderbolt into the ground to splash up a hidden fountain of water. No, he had to take a shovel and start digging, even when others scoffed. Miracles don’t always come in the way we expect or want. Sometimes, he pointed out, we just need to start digging.
But there’s the miracle. That a skinny boy from Canada put his eyes on Jesus, instead of on himself or the gods of the society all around him. And suddenly he was able to go to the other side of the world — not to serve himself. But to serve Jesus. Even in a hostile and dangerous place. And then one night, he was able to hear the voice of the Creator of the universe tell him to start digging. And then act.
I want to start digging. But even more than the digging, I want to keep my eyes on Him. I could spend the rest of my life digging in my own strength yet never see anything but more dirt. Or just sore and bloody hands. But if I’m looking at Him — instead of at the dirt or even at my pain and suffering — then God’s going to do something refreshing and amazing.
I’m not interested in being the hero consumed with looking for noble things, like water, in life. And I don’t want to be the martyr who spends his life wiping dirt and blood from his hands. I just want to look into the eyes of Jesus and, by the grace of God, walk wherever He commands. Even on water.
Speaking of noticing good things that happen in the day, I was encouraged today when I heard my son Henry talking alone in his room when he was supposed to be napping. He wasn’t talking to Spiderman, Wall-e or race cars. He was talking to God.
“God, I’ll tell the people You are the nicest person in the whole world,” he said. You’re so nice. And You’re the biggest person in the whole world. Your head probably touches the sky. You probably look like a skyscraper. God, You’re the best person! And You love EVERYONE!”
The way he gleefully shouted “everyone” this afternoon still gives me a smile and shiver in my heart. My four year-old son innocently had his eyes pointed in the right direction today. And that got my attention.
In a world of countless distractions, people always notice when they see someone who has his or her eyes on Jesus. And that’s a miracle.