We can expect challenges in this life. Some come like speed bumps providing momentary jostling which fade quickly in the rear view mirror. Others threaten to remove the oxygen from our lungs. Much of life falls somewhere in between.
In a recent sermon our pastor used the phrase “glance and gaze.” I must confess, I can’t recreate the context in which he used it, but the phrase has stuck with me.
It reminds me of a passage from a novel I read years ago called Father Melancholy’s Daughter. The author, Gail Godwin writes, “After reaching the corner, he paced back and forth with his hands clasped behind his back. In the act of pacing, he would glance sideways at the ruins, then quickly look away. Then glance at them again, and look away, and pace some more. I thought I understood what he was doing, it was the kind of thing I might do: force myself to look at something painful in small doses until I got to the place where I could look at it steadily without it breaking my heart.”
When difficulty in life strikes I often find myself in both participant and observer roles. I enter the chaos and feel flooded with emotions ranging from sadness to confusion, anger to compassion, frustration to planning.
Thanks to wise counsel I am learning to sit with a messy inner world and not shut it down too quickly or just get busy to avoid the hard emotional work.
But I’m also struck with the need to not dwell in the mess too long. When my glancing becomes filled with earthly circumstances I can easily lose sight of a higher picture. So I choose to gaze on eternity and God’s ways in the midst of today’s difficulties, a focus that yields hope of forever through Jesus.
And questions help me process. “God, how do you see this situation?” shifts my attention and expands my vision. “What might this look like ten years from now?” reminds me to consider that the story isn’t fully written and I see only a fragment of the complete picture. “How do you want me to participate?” empowers and calls me to Godly action, not distraction-based busy-work.
The words of an old hymn come to mind.
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.
With love and gratitude,
In The Midst