By BARBARA LOWNSBURY

When my kids were little and they weren’t making the best choices, they wouldn’t look me in the eye right away.  I would take hold of that pudgy little hand, give a gentle squeeze, and ask my child to look at me.  Those little eyes would dart to any direction but the right one.  Sometimes I would even gently take their chin in my hand and quietly but firmly say their name, but still those eyes would struggle to land on my face.

I’ve realized I can do the same thing with God.  I’m holding His hand and we’re walking along together, Father and Daughter.  But there are times I sense Him asking me to stop and look up at Him, to “look him in the eye” and engage with Him.  And for whatever reason, I don’t.  I’m too busy or too distracted.  Or, I don’t really want to deal with the mess I find myself in and just like a child, I don’t look.  I know if I do, I have to face up to the consequences or the lessons He is trying to teach me.  I circle all around God, praying for others, doing all sorts of godly activities.  But I resist stopping and really engaging with Him.

I can be a lot like Martha, busy with the preparations for her guests that were coming to hear Jesus teach.  Jesus was right there in her midst, but she was distracted.  Those distractions were actually good things, but her focus wasn’t on looking at her Father and learning.  Mary chose to sit at Jesus’ feet, listening and learning, even if it meant some of the other tasks didn’t get done, and Jesus commended her for it in Luke 10:38-42.

In those moments of distraction or guilt, I have to remember the heart of the one calling me to look.  Jesus’ face is one full of compassionate love.  His is a face that looks upon me with acceptance, patience and kindness.  His heart is always out for my good.  Even when I’m worrying about my choices, He’s already found solutions and ways for me to grow through them.  So, in those moments of wanting to let my heart, mind and soul dart in million different directions, I force myself to take a deep breath.  Stop.  And make the choice to look at the author and perfecter of my faith:  Jesus. (Hebrews 12:2)

FOR FURTHER THOUGHT  When are you tempted to not slow down enough to deeply engage with God?  How do you get your eyes refocused on what most matters?

For me, I’ve learned that when I do slow down and engage, especially when I feel resistant, I always feel SO much better afterwards.  The enemy knows if I look I’ll be relieved and refreshed, so he does all he can to keep me looking elsewhere!  Paul’s words in Ephesians 1:18-19 really help me with this:

“I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know him better.  I pray also that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, and his incomparably great power for us who believe.”

It’s hard for me to grow in wisdom and revelation, or receive enlightenment and hope when I’m not looking to Christ to grow me!  Next time, when you and I get caught up in busyness or guilt and notice we’re circling all around Jesus without really looking at Him, let’s make a simple decision:  look.

PRAYER  Papa, thank You for Your patience with me when my eyes dart around looking at everything but You.  Remind me to slow down, to remember what’s important, and to put You first.  Help me to remember You always greet me from a position of kindness and love, even if I need correcting.  Your love and grace are so lavish, so rich and so deep—help me to comprehend that more and more, and to keep reaching for You.  I love You, Papa.  Amen.

BARB LOWNSBURY is the Executive Director for The Dented Fender.  Follow Barb and The Dented Fender community on Facebook and Instagram.