by Ben Raynal
Flickr.com_/photos/zubrow/5516105138_CC BY-ND 2.0
Keep vigilant watch over your heart; that’s where life starts…Keep your eyes straight ahead; ignore all sideshow distractions. Watch your step, and the road will stretch out smooth before you. Look neither right nor left; leave all evil in the dust.
Proverbs 4:23, 25-27 (The Message)
Charging ahead of us towards the playscape, my eldest grandson keeps looking backwards over his shoulder. Eager to be first, he measures his footing not by what’s in front of him, but rather how quickly his siblings and cousins are closing the gap behind him.
Inevitably, he stumbles and falls.
Helping him up, I dust him off and gently remind him to keep his eyes straight ahead so he can see what’s right in front of him and avoid the fall.
It’s like that off the playground, too, isn’t it?
We finally see God’s promises laid out before us. So, we charge straight ahead, but somewhere along the way we become distracted.
Maybe we hear another’s strides closing in on us. They’re running toward the same promises and we fear they’ll get there first, or that God won’t have enough for both of us, and our gaze strays from what’s in front of us to who’s behind us.
Or, we grow weary, lonely, and discouraged along the way. The journey is long and our encouragers have grown weary and gone home. We lose our way, doubt our purpose, and feel unloved. We turn our eyes inward or toward someone or something else rather than keeping our focus on God’s promises.
Either way, we’re distracted from what’s straight ahead. Our hearts begin doubting all that God’s spoken into us. Our gaze, rather than staying fixed on Him, falls upon our distractions—whether ourselves or another—and we trip over our own feet, an obstacle in the road, or we veer off the path. Suddenly, we’re flat on our face, mired and muddied, wondering what happened.
Proverbs warns us to keep vigilant over our hearts; the place life starts. He urges us, like I do my grandson, to keep our eyes fixed straight ahead, ignoring all distractions and leave all evil behind. Our distractions may not be evil, per say, but when something draws our gaze away from Jesus, then doesn’t that something become our god?
But there is hope. Jesus never tires of rescuing. He always welcomes us back with arms wide open when we turn our gaze back to Him. He’s always ready to set our feet back on course when we earnestly seek Him and fix our eyes upon Him.
God reminds us in Jeremiah, "I have it all planned out- plans to take care of you, not to abandon you, plans to give you the future you hope for. When you call on me, when you come and pray to me, I'll listen. When you come looking for me, you'll find me. Yes, when you get serious about finding me and want it more than anything else, I'll make sure you won't be disappointed." (Jeremiah 2:11-14a The Message).
Abba, thank you for never tiring of us; for always coming to our rescue when we become distracted, stumble and fall. Help us along this journey to set our hearts and our gaze upon you and only you. For you, Lord, have it all planned out for our good; for a full and abundant, victorious life. You never disappoint. So today, Lord, we reset our gaze upon you.