“Turn your eyes upon Jesus, look full in His wonderful face, and the things of earth will grow strangely dim in the light of His glory and grace.” Helen H. Lemmel
In landscaping, a specimen plant can be used to create a focal point. To merit such a special role, the plant generally has some unique or impressive attribute. I described one such example, my beloved crape myrtle, in my last post. Depending on the season, its size, exfoliating bark and/or flower-laden branches command attention. It’s often the first thing people notice when they stop by to visit.
Just as experienced landscapers carefully select specimen plants to create garden-enhancing focal points, we need to take great care in choosing what we focus on moment-by-moment and day-by-day as we go about our lives. We’re all surrounded by varying demands, requiring action or decisions on our part. The weight of responsibility and pace of life can frequently result in a sense of disquiet and anxiety, especially if we concentrate on our circumstances. But what if we could shift our focus to something, or better yet, Someone, who offers peace amidst all the hustle and bustle?
The apostle Peter learned much about the importance of choosing wisely when it comes to deciding what to focus on. In the well-known account of him walking on water (Matthew 14:22-32), Peter was able to perform the miraculous feat as long as he kept his eyes on Jesus. “But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, Lord, save me! Immediately Jesus reached out his hand and caught him.” (verses 30-31)
Likewise, when Jesus and his disciples visited the home of Martha and Mary, “Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made.” Not only was she preoccupied with the details involved with feeding her guests, she became quite exasperated when her sister, Mary, decided to sit at Jesus’ feet and listen to his teaching instead of helping. In fact, Martha was so annoyed she asked Jesus to tell Mary to assist with the meal. To her surprise and possibly dismay, she was the one who received a gentle rebuke: “Martha, Martha”, the Lord answered, “you are worried about many things, but only one thing is needed. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.” (Luke 10:41-42)
Similarly, as recounted in Matthew 6:25-34, Jesus told his listeners not to worry about what they would eat or drink or wear, but to “seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.” (verses 33-34)
So, does this mean we shouldn’t take care of ourselves and our loved ones or tend to the details of our lives? Of course not! There will always be demands on our time and resources, meals to be prepared, laundry to be washed and folded, bills to be paid. But, instead of becoming anxious and afraid, burdened and weighed down by focusing on our circumstances, we need to “turn our eyes upon Jesus”. Earlier, I described a specimen plant as one that usually has an impressive or unique attribute. In four brief but very rich verses, Hebrews 1:1-4 declares a number of Jesus’ amazing, matchless characteristics. He is the Son of God, the radiance of God’s glory, heir of all things, superior to the angels. Not only was everything created through him, but he sustains all things through his powerful word. He’s seated at God’s right hand, interceding for us (Romans 8:34).
Jesus, our Lord and Savior, is supremely worthy to be our focal point. We can rest in the assurance of all he’s done for us and all he’s promised to do for us, confident he’ll never leave us or forsake us.