Monday, March 26, 2012

An Urge to Focus on Christ

One recent morning during my "quiet time," my eyes were drawn to the small corner of the window that actually has a view (the rest of the window is obstructed by a storage trailer). I noticed some movement and discovered a deer eating in our yard. I watched her as she stayed for an hour or more. Later in the day I happened to look out as two more deer walked through the yard. Since moving to our country home, watching the deer and recognizing how God cares for them has been a great joy and comfort for me. But in the last few months the deer seemed to have vanished. I missed them and wondered how they had fared through the winter. Especially in the last few days, my heart had ached to see them. So when God planted the deer in the only space visible from my perch in the family room, I was immediately overwhelmed with a sense of his care and compassion for me and his desire to speak to the needs of my heart.
You see, several years ago I experienced four major losses in a two year period, including the loss of my son and the loss of a job for which I was sure God had designed me. And, although God was my comfort and sufficiency during those times, over the last few years I had begun to feel less intimacy with my Creator and Savior. I sensed myself withdrawing and attempting to protect myself; not losing faith in a sovereign, loving God, but also not trusting him to fully care for me. I hungered for the intimacy I once felt and prayed for God to draw me to himself once again. My prayer had been Psalm 41:1, "As the deer pants for streams of water, so I long for you, O God."
So when Pastor Nick suggested a Lenten experience, I was immediately on board. What to give up was a no-brainer. Being unemployed and a procrastinator, I had spent hours playing free cell and spider solitaire on the computer instead of listening to God or filling out job applications. As a compulsive problem solver, I knew the computer games gave me a sense of control; "If I don’t win this game, I can play it again and win it the second or third time." And control makes me feel safer. So, I decided whenever I had the impulse to play a game, instead I would turn to God and willfully submit to his solutions for my life. Meditating on and trying to grasp the grandness of Christ’s ultimate sacrifice as the solution to my broken relationship with God would replace the mindless puzzle solutions. Focusing on his past faithfulness and provisions would confront my need to control. Choosing to trust him completely and become totally vulnerable to his control would lead me to intimacy with him. This Lent season I am intentionally and diligently on that journey.
It has not been as easy as you would think and I have not done it perfectly. Waiting for something to download on the computer provides time for a "quick" game, and there are all kinds of other puzzles that call for my solution:, daily crossword, and Sudoku. But as I say, "no" to the puzzle and, "yes" to spending more time focusing on the Easter message and God’s past mercies, I am experiencing more and more of God’s presence and love. The deer outside my window (and God’s nudge to look out the window) was a wonderful expression of his love for me and his desire for me to fully experience that love. My heart is being drawn more and more to intimacy with him. Psalm 42:2 and 11 go on to say: "I thirst for God, the living God. When can I come and stand before him? . . . I will put my hope in God. I will praise him again – my Savior and my God."
And so, I am excited to celebrate Easter this year, not because Lent will be over, but because of the hope of the resurrection; because the tomb is empty and my God can be trusted. Life will continue to have pain and the future to be uncertain, but I will continue to focus my eyes on God and his past mercies to me. Sarah Young in Jesus Calling (p.54) speaks in Jesus’ voice when she says, "Keeping your eyes on Me is the same thing as trusting Me." So I am thankful for the urges to play a game because they remind me to refocus my eyes on Christ. The journey to deeper trust and intimacy will continue long after the Easter Sunday and praise will be my companion.

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