When I originally was thinking about the idea of why God made us with the need to focus on one thing at a time to be effective and productive back in July 2012, the boy band called One Direction was not really popular, at least not among my college-aged friends. But I put it on hold to post because I knew I had more to say about this topic, and could probably write forever about lots of things in the Bible. However, I figure now is the perfect time for this, because this issue is so relevant and this band is totally dominating the teenage-girl music charts right now!
So, join me as we concentrate on our One True Direction: getting closer to the heart of Jesus.
Just like we can only physically look in one direction at a time as a result of how our eyes are set in our heads, so spiritually, we can only look one way at a time. In this sense, we have one-track, or tunnel-vision. Some say moms have eyes in the back of their heads, but the reality is that they really only have one pair of eyes and are just very observant concerning the safety and conduct of their young children.
What would it be like if you could see multiple things – look in multiple directions – at the same time? I think it would be not only confusing, but very unfocused. Your life would lack clarity as your intellect and attention was constantly split in two (or more) places.
I think God made us with limited physical vision to not overwhelm our senses (of which he gave us an overabundance in FIVE of them!) but balance our awareness of the world around us. Sight is clearly important to Jesus in the New Testament, like when he heals two blind men in Matthew 20 and the blind man in John 9. Jesus even says in Luke 4:18-19, “The Spirit of the LORD is upon me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed, to proclaim the year of the LORD’s favor.”
Jesus turns his sights (pun intended) to our spiritual eyes as well. In Matthew 6:22-23 he says, “The eye is the lamp of the body. So if your eye is healthy, your whole body will be full of light, but if your eye is bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light is darkness, how great is the darkness!” Clearly, eyes are incredibly important to our spiritual health! God purposefully gave us spiritual tunnel-vision so that would could focus and put all our efforts, determination, faith and trust in Him as we seek that one thing. One goal at a time is not a narrow view of life. I think it is a very wide view: it allows one to complete the task at hand adequately by focusing all energies on that one thing without distractions. Thus, just like physically, if you are looking down, necessarily by definition, you cannot see what is above you. Now the question comes: if we have only one point of view, where do we look?
My answer is to God, the One who sees all and knows all! Where better to find the right direction to look than by asking the One who knows everything?! We are called as Christians to make prayerful and wise decisions concerning the direction we pursue in our lives. And sometimes, even if we think it’s the right one, God might tell us to go a different way. I personally take comfort in the fact that if I’m not going in the right direction, He will gently guide me to the right one.
Yet one place where we often get stuck as Christians is when we think we know better than God does about where we should be heading. Since He gave us the ability to choose which way we want to go, we always have the freedom to run in the opposite direction than where He intends for us. But one of my favorite things about God is that He is relentless. He will never, never, ever stop pursuing you, and he certainly will never give up on you. So when we stumble upon the wrong way on accident or run away from God out of rebellion, the good news is that He won’t ever leave you and is going to tenderly guide you back in the right direction, no matter what. And the good news is that if you get lost, there is only one right direction to turn your focus towards: Jesus. He’s the guide post to focus your life around, and He’s got the map and directions to life, since He created it all!
[but as you begin your journey towards our Savior Jesus Christ, enjoy more photos of the One Direction boys. At the very least, they can harmonize and don’t have acne.]
Jesus has got that “One Thing” for you: Salvation!
Have you ever sat and thought about the word lift? Probably not, because you’re not as weird as I am. But this morning in church I started thinking about this word: lift. We have been studying the 15 Songs of Ascents in the book of Psalms in the Bible. This week we took a look at Psalm 123, which literally begins with the words, “I lift my eyes to you, to you whose throne is in heaven.” As I thought about the word lift, I realized it is an action verb, meaning: in order to lift something (like your eyes) you have to physically DO something. It is not a passive verb, such as “to think” “to want” or “to remind.” Lifting your eyes requires not only physical action but also putting forth effort in order to raise or elevate something (or someone) higher.
I believe often people think of God as this all-powerful being, or the “spirit in the sky” who lives up in heaven, far out of reach and incommunicable. But that is the furthest thing from the truth. When I lift my eyes up to heaven, it is not as a miniscule ant looking up to a giant aloof being; but rather it is an act of submission in reverence to the Almighty Creator of the universe. He is high and mighty not in a narcissistic way, but in a God-way – that is to say, He simply is literally ALL-mighty. It’s a fact. Anyways, when you look UP, you are not looking at yourself any longer, are you? Your eyes are literally taken off of yourself when you focus all your attention on the One who created you. It’s amazing, isn’t it?! For me, the best way to get myself off of my mind is to look up to God and find out what He has to say about me, my purpose in life, and His love for me.
Just two chapters before Psalm 123, the more widely known Psalm 121 begins, “I lift my eyes up to the hills, where does my help come from? My help comes from the LORD, the maker of heaven and earth.” The writer clearly states that the LORD God is the one who is in charge; literally God is the one sitting on the throne (Psalm 123:1). Since God is the only one in control, it follows that I must look up to Him – seek Him – for help, just as the psalmist says in Psalm 121:2. It makes sense that the creator has power over what he has created; just as a painter has the authority over his own artwork to say where it should be hung, what fame in which to put it, how much it should be sold for, etc. However, unlike a human artist, God retains influence over his creations once they have left His hands, though he entrusts his masterpieces to us humans. For example, God creates each and every baby (even unborn ones) uniquely just as an artist would shape and mold clay to create something beautiful and one-of-a-kind. But once a baby is born, God lets the parent(s) have responsibility for that little life – even though He still retains influence because He is the original sculptor.
Often, our culture asserts that God is only there to make our lives hunky-dory and keep us happy and content, and if He doesn’t fulfill our expectations of what the fairy tale “happily ever after” should look like, then we think He has abandoned us, hates us, doesn’t care about us, or never even existed at all. All too often we get addicted to our perception of what a “perfect” life should look like according to cinema, romance novels, or famous celebrity lifestyles. But the truth is that God is the original inventor of happiness and fulfillment in life, so how could He not care?
The bottom line is: what you believe about God’s adequacy. Is God enough for you? Do you truly believe that God is in control of your life and sufficiently able to handle all the ups and downs of it? I implore you; take a good, long look at what you truly believe about the One who created you! As Romans 12:2 says, “Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world…” Life may not always be rosy-cheeked and peachy-keen, but the fact is that God is ALWAYS in control.