Keep Your Eyes On Him

A.W. Tozier, a well known theologian, once made the statement, “God has never used anyone greatly, whom He has not first hurt deeply”. We need to look past the pain and see the plan. If we can do that, then our whole perspective on trials will change and we will experience a peace and security that we have never known.
When we face adversity in life, we have come to a point on the diagram called the “Valley of Decision”, where we must make a choice. The choices as mentioned earlier are: 1. Obedience (submitting to or humbling ourselves before God), and, 2. Rebellion (unbelief or opposition to God) The choice we make will not likely get us out of the situation, but will definitely determine the emotions, attitudes and actions that follow, which will affect every area of our lives including the development of our character. But, even greater than that, since we d~termined that trials are a test of our faith, we are either strengthened or weakened in our spiritual life by the choice we make. To obey is to move toward spiritual maturity and greater faith, because, when we choose to obey, we are looking for God to work, and when He does, our faith grows. This doesn’t necessarily mean that God gave us the answer to prayer that we wanted, but, if it was committed to the Lord, we can be certain that it was the answer that He wanted for us. Often, later on, we can look back and see how God worked.
To rebel is to regress in our spiritual life, since we are controlled by the flesh and are not even looking for God to do anything, but are depending on our own abilities. Therefore, God is out of the picture. Our eyes are on self. The choice of rebellion does not necessarily mean that we are not Christians, but usually is an indication of the strength of our faith and of our relationship with God. Even mature Christians, in moments of spiritual weakness, make the wrong choice. When that happens, there is conviction, confession of sin, and restoration of that person’s relationship with God. (lJn.1:9) As believers, we have as our ambition the desire to please God. (2Cor.5:9) We desire a close relationship with Him and can’t stand a break in the fellowship that we have with Him. Therefore, conviction and repentance usually come quickly. The longer we wait, the more miserable we become.
If you feel far from God,
guess who moved!
Sometimes the choice that we make is based on learned behavior that may even go back to childhood. It could even be something that has developed into a bad habit, and may seem impossible to overcome. But, remember, Gods word says “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me”. (Phil.4:13). Often, we do not realize that we have fallen into sin. We are “anesthetized” like a frog put into a pot of room temperature water. The temperature is gradually increased, and the unsuspecting frog boils to death. Slowly and gradually we can become immune to our sin, until eventually it overcomes us and we are destroyed. We must be self-controlled and alert, because the devil prowls around like a roaring lion seeking someone to devour. (lPet.5:8). We also need to wake up,let go of the past as it negatively effects our choices, and,”press on toward the goal, for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus”. (Phil.3:13,14).
Since we are in a race,it is important that we keep our eyes on the goal. To momentarily glance away from the goal can spell disaster.Consider Peter when he was in the boat and saw the Lord walking toward him on the water. The Lord bade him to come to Him, so Peter got out of the boat and walked toward Him on the water. He was fine as long as he kept his eyes on Jesus. But, just for a moment, he took his eyes off Jesus, saw the peril that he was in, and started to sink. Isn’t that what we do when we are faced with those hurdles that are there for a purpose? Those hurdles that seem so insurmountable? We look at the hurdle instead of looking at the Lord. We look at our weakness instead of God’s strength, and down we go. Winston Churchill said, “Success is never final, and failure is never fatal. It is courage that counts”. Rudyard Kipling wrote that “if we can meet triumph and disaster, and treat those two imposters just the same, then we are on our way to becoming men”. We do this by getting our eyes off ourselves and focusing them on the glory of the One who can provide for us and sustain us. Be aware of the hurdles, but don’t focus on them. When we reach the valley of decision and have our eyes fixed on self, or anything else except the Lord, we are pulled down the slide of rebellion or unbelief by the worldly lusts, i.e. the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the boastful pride of life.
{lJn.2:16}. If we dwell in this area too long, the result is a series of negative emotions beginning with bitterness and resentment and ending with despair and hopelessness. Our spiritual life then regresses and eventually the deeds of the flesh will lead us into one or more of the following: Immorality, sensuality,sorcery {drugs), strife, anger, impurity, idolotry, enmities, jealousy, disputes, dissensions, factions, envying, drunkenness, and carousing. {Gal. 5: 19-21}. These lead to more guilt and negative emotions, despair, hopelessness, and sometimes total destruction. You lose and Satan wins. Your soul is saved, if you are a Christian, but your rewards and effectiveness for Christ are lost.
Why do people, even Christians, commit suicide? It is usually because they reach the point of despair and dwell there until all hope seems to be gone. When your hope is gone, your courage goes with it. It was easy to see this in the life of Peter, for example. His faith was strong as long as he thought that the Lord was in control. But, when he saw Christ heading for the cross, he lost hope, and his courage went with it. So, he denied Christ three times. Why? Well, he just didn’t see the whole picture. But, we have the whole picture. We know how things are going to end and what our future is. We have no reason to lose hope. We have the “Blessed Hope”, and His promises are sure. We just need to stand firm, knowing in Whom we believe.
I heard a radio pastor tell about watching the 1980 Olympic hockey game between the U.S. team and the Russians. He sat on the edge of his seat with sweating palms during the whole game. He was nervous and anxious all at the same time. He videotaped the game so he could invite friends over to watch it later. During the replay, however, he just sat back and sipped his lemonade and ate his popcorn while those who were watching it for the first time sat on the edge of their seats. Why was he so relaxed? Well, he already knew the outcome, so he didn’t need to be anxious. Isn’t that how we should react to what is happening today. We already know the ultimate outcome, so we can “be anxious for nothing”.