Sunday, January 26, 2014

Focus {Soul Rest Sunday}

Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, 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 12:1-2, ESV

The "gratuitous Ebony photo" Laura requested :)

These last three weeks have been full, the kind of full that always leaves more "to do" than "done." Each day leaves me farther behind on the list of tasks and projects, some I'd like to do but most I ought to do. Two more plumber visits, an electrician's help, a wedding, an office party, four medical appointments in two weeks, and the first two sessions (and weeks' homework) for Bible study have meant silence here.

Outlines of posts dance around in my head, sometimes tapping me on the hand insistently, like small children, but I can't seem to get myself here to the computer at the same time there's enough mental energy to string words together into sentences.

In the midst of the melee, as I prayerfully and uncertainly seek to leave the right things left undone each day, an essay by Lilias Trotter has frequently come to mind. Miss Trotter (1853-1928) left behind a promising career in the visual arts in order to pioneer as an unmarried female missionary in Muslim North Africa. She first came to my attention through the words of Elisabeth Elliot, particularly in A Path Through Suffering, and I'm so thankful that she did. Though you may not recognize her name or her essay "Focussed," you may well recognize the name of a hymn her essay inspired: "Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus."

If we were sitting across the tea or lunch table from each other, these are the words I would share with you, the words my soul is pondering these days, excerpted from an appendix in the biography A Passion for the Impossible, by Miriam Huffman Rockness:
  Gathered up, focussed lives, intent on one aim--Christ--those are the lives on which God can concentrate blessedness. It is "all for all" by a law as unvarying as any law that governs the material universe.
  We see the principle shadowed in the trend of science; the telephone and the wireless in the realm of sound, the use of radium and the ultra violet rays in the realm of light. All these work by gathering into focus currents and waves that, dispersed, cannot serve us. In every branch of learning and workmanship the tendency of these days is to specialize--to take up one point and follow it to the uttermost.
   And Satan knows well the power of concentration; if a soul is likely to get under the sway of the inspiration, "this one thing I do," he will turn all his energies to bring in side-interests that will shatter the gathering intensity.
   And they lie around, these interests. Never has it been so easy to live in half a dozen good harmless worlds at one--art, music, social science, games, motoring, 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.
   It is easy to find out whether our lives are focussed, and if so, where the focus lies. Where do our thoughts settle when consciousness comes back in the morning? Where do they swing back when the pressure is off during the day? Does this test not give the clue? Then dare to have it out with God--and after all, that is the shortest way. Dare to lay bare your whole life and being before Him, and ask Him to show you whether or not all is focussed on Christ and His glory. Dare to face the fact that unfocussed, good and useful as it may seem, it will prove to have failed of its purpose.
   What does this focussing mean? Study the matter and you will see that it means two things--gathering in all that can be gathered, and letting the rest drop. The working of any lens--microscope, telescope, camera--will show you this. The lens of your own eye, in the room where you are sitting, as clearly as any other. Look at the window bars, and the beyond is only a shadow; look through at the distance, and it is the bars that turn into ghosts. You have to choose which you will fix your gaze upon and let the other go....
All aims, all ambitions, all desires, all pursuits--shall we dare to drop them if they cannot be gathered sharply and clearly into the focus of "this one thing I do"?
   How do we bring things to a focus in the world of optics? Not by looking at the things to be dropped, but by looking at the one point that is to be brought out.
   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, and the Divine "attrait" by which God's saints are made, even in this 20th century, will lay hold of you. For "He is worthy" to have all there is to be had in the heart that He has died to win (288-289).
He is worthy, and I trust that He will guide. As we walk into a new week, dear Crumbles, let's focus on Jesus with our soul's full vision. "There's light for a look at the Savior," as the song says. May we look, and may He clarify for each of us what to drop day by day that He might fill our vision more and more until we see Him face to face.


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