Isn’t our God so gracious as to allow the words and thoughts of others to encourage us at just the right time? Sometimes we might not even understand what the words meant to the original author or speaker. Our perspective might interpret them with a whole new meaning.
He’s so infinitely wise, and so intricately involved in the details of our lives. That’s one of the greatest things I’ve come to realize about His character. The special care He takes to love us intentionally … specifically … individually.
Please don’t confuse what I’m about to describe with picking and choosing scriptures to make them say what we want them to say, or understanding them out of context. God’s word is infallible and complete. 2 Timothy 3:16 tells us ‘all Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness’ …without us having to do a single thing to it.
Do you know what I’m talking about? You read a book, hear a song, come across a quote…and it just grabs you! You feel like somehow the author got inside your head and knew exactly what you needed in that moment.
The reality is … He did.
We know from James 1:17 that ‘every good and perfect gift is from above’. Regardless of who receives copyright credits, if it is truth and it directs your thoughts towards God, you can believe that The Author knew it would.
One of those works that spoke deeply to my soul many years ago was the hymn, ‘Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus’.
I shared these lyrics while giving my testimony in a chapel service at my college (evidence that God can be FAR from finished with you for you to have a testimony). I had recently finished a 6 month round of treatment for Non-Hodgkins Lymphoma.
Anyone looking at my life from the outside would have assumed any testimony I had to share would have been centered around my experience with cancer. The reality is, I do have an amazing testimony of God walking with me through that season of life. And I owe the fact that I’m married to the amazing man that I am to that time and experience.
But in actuality, I was clinging to the hope found in these words because of a laundry list of things of this world … many which were much more daunting to me than my cancer diagnosis.
That was nearly 11 years ago now, and throughout those years the words of this hymn would often help me to refocus. It’s not scripture, but it certainly is true. Sometimes it was one of those songs I would sing wholeheartedly! Sometimes it was sung in desperation, wanting so badly to believe it could be true. Other times, it was one of those songs I felt guilty for singing the lyrics to in church because I certainly wasn’t living as though I believed them.
Songwriter Helen H. Lemmel was, most likely, referring to trials of this life … the verses of the song certainly indicate so. However, she got her inspiration for the chorus from a missionary named Lilias Trotter. Google her, she’s worth your time to learn more about. I anticipate I will likely write on her more in depth at a later time, but for now just know she was a very talented woman.
A skilled painter and daughter of well-to-do and educated parents in London in 1853, she could have had her pick of educational and career options.
In addition to her love and passion for art, though, she had an even deeper love for Jesus and missions. She put aside her potential career as an artist to devote her life to sharing the Gospel … even going so far as to walk the streets looking for prostitutes she could minister to.
Trotter became a teacher, and wrote many devotionals. In one of her devotionals, she said
Never has it been so easy to live in half a dozen good harmless worlds at once – art, music, social science, games, the following of some profession, and so on. And between them we run the risk of drifting about, the “good” hiding the “best” even more effectually than it could be hidden by downright frivolity with its smothered heart-ache at its own emptiness…
… Turn full your soul’s vision to Jesus, and look and look at Him, and a strange dimness will come over all that is apart from Him.
I love that…’the good hiding the best’
In this season of life I find myself in right now, it is so tempting for me to find full satisfaction in any number of the gifts I’ve been given. As I’m learning to be grateful for where God has me now, rather than always looking ahead to what is next, the other side of that fleshly coin is to find my fulfillment in those gifts rather than the giver.
Maybe you are in the midst of trial and despair…turn your eyes upon Jesus instead.
Perhaps you are tempted to find satisfaction in the wonderful gifts God has blessed you with…turn your eyes upon Jesus instead.
Maybe you see a glimmer of hope that one or more of those gifts you’ve been wishing for might finally be just within your reach…turn your eyes upon Jesus instead.
Whether your ‘soul’s vision’ has been set on your troubles or your blessings, take time to turn your eyes towards Jesus.
…looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God. (Hebrews 12:2 ESV)