I was stressing out on some stuff the other day. I sat on a park bench to pray and a picture came to mind of what was happening. I claim that Jesus is my “Center,” but rather than looking at him, I was looking past him at the things about which I was tensed.
I guess you could say that I was turning my back on him––my supposed Center––and trying to deal with my difficulties that lurked around my perimeter. Every circle has a center and a circumference. You can probably guess where God and our difficulties belong in this figure. I was bypassing the Center on my way to the circumference.
Being the spiritual giant I am, once I’ve sufficiently run my stressers through all the files in my own mind, I nearly always go back to God for him to sign off on my solutions and help me implement them going forward. That’s not exactly treating him as the Center.
Weird, don’t you think, that we so easily look past him to deal with worries, decisions, doubts, relationship problems, health issues, temptations, personal problems, world problems? I guess we think we’re spiritual because we eventually do return to the Center and ask for help.
It’s a “utilitarian faith” that uses the Lord more than trusts him with our lives. We look to him when we’re in need rather than keeping our eyes fixed on him at all times whether in need or not.
If he’s actually “the Center”––try to visual this––then he must be situated somewhere in between us and the things that cause us to worry or fear. Problem is, instead of looking in his direction we either look past him or worse, turn our backs on him in order to deal with them in our own way in our own strength.
“Perfect peace” is promised to those whose minds are “stayed on” him, that is they stay on him instead of wandering off to find solutions of their own.
I propose that, more than just looking in his general direction, we look right at him, that is, look at him in the face, and better yet, directly in his eyes. Could this is what it means to “seek his face,” where, rather than focus our attention on the challenges that surround us, we turn our gaze toward him and see what’s on his face?
“Look to the Lord and his strength; seek his face always.” Psalm 105:4
Isn’t this the way we must make our decisions, quell our worries, repent of our sins, and love our enemies––by peering into the face of Jesus? It wasn’t until he exchanged looks with Jesus, that Peter was convicted of his betrayal.
You can tell a lot about what a person thinks and their disposition toward you when you look in their eyes. Sometimes words don’t even need to be exchanged. You can see it in their eyes. You know. “Be still and know…”
His pleasure or displeasure, his comfort or conviction––we can see in his eyes. In his gaze we can find everything we need to do or think or say, or cease our doing, thinking, and saying . After all we are the “apple of his eye.”
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.
You can read more of my own vacillating trust in “The Center” in The Other End of the Dark.