“Happy Birthday” to Me!
I had a birthday this week. But, it’s not overly exciting. You know what I mean right? When you’re a little kid it is a real toss-up between birthday and Christmas as to which is more exciting. Birthday cake is fantastic and at 6 years old it burns off in 15 seconds of playing. Even when you get a little older certain birthdays are exciting. At 16 you get your license. 18 is when you can start voting, go to war, and smoke legally (I’ve only done one of those things). At 21 you are officially into adulthood. Even at 25 you get the amazing experience of renting vehicles without paying the extra “young dumb driver” insurance. But, this year I get to turn the exciting age of 35. Whew-who!
So, what does 35 bring with it? A higher number of “when I was a boy” stories for Jack, the recognition that fewer and fewer of the teens in our youth group were even alive when I graduated high school, and this year, something that’s even worse- a trip to the ophthalmologist! When I was younger I had GREAT vision. I could spot things from further away than any of my friends. I always found my exit or store in plenty of time when I was driving. If there was something tiny to read across the room, I was the man for the job. I never had to squint, guess what time it was in the middle of the night while looking at the red blur of letters on the clock, worry about glasses in sports, or fiddle with contacts. But, over the last year or so I’ve noticed that words on the TV are harder to read, road signs have to get closer to follow, and so on. So, literally the first thing on my “to do list” for my actual birthday morning is the first visit to the eye doctor in over six years!
Now, here’s the thing; as much as I hate the thought of wearing glasses, I hate the thought of squinting and getting headaches worse. As much as I don’t want to have put on the specs first thing the morning to see the clock (which I still won’t for a while hopefully), I would rather do that than be late for an appointment because I don’t know what time it is. As much as I’d rather be able to wear the sunglasses of my choice when I’ve driving down the road, I think it would be much more frustrating to miss a turn because I couldn’t read a sign or run into something. In the end, as much as I don’t like the thought of having something else set my focus, the end result of clear vision will be a huge benefit to my everyday life.
When I think about this new addition to my life (by the way, I’ve finished my appointment and will be sporting glasses soon….), it gives me a thought about faith. It’s a thought that is shared in Hebrews 12:1-3. Here, you have the author of Hebrews laying out a challenge for faithful living to Jewish Christians after reminding them of their forefather’s commitment to faith in chapter 11.
“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, 2 fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. 3 Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart..”
You notice how the author calls his audience to faithful living? The heart of the message of faithfulness is right in the middle of this call to action. There is a calling to focus on what really matters to our faith- Jesus Christ. There are so many things that vie for our attention and cause a lack of focus. But, at the end of the day, the point of our faith is to look like Jesus. Whether it is the destructiveness of sin in our life or even some things that can seem godly in nature, such as religious traditions and preferences, we need to start living life that has the clear lens of Jesus to give us focus and clarity. In other words, we are called to approach this world with sacrificial love and mercy for the hurting, justice for those without a voice, and humility to live in such a way that honors God by putting him above everything else. We are called to strive for holiness and live on mission to the world around us as we worship God with our lives.
Sometime toward the end of next week I will see this computer screen a lot clearer because I’ll have my new specs. I’m not looking forward to wearing them. I wish I could go back to the good ole’ days of 20/10 vision. But, that’s not happening. However, at least my glasses will help me regain some focus to see things more clearly. The same is true for us in our spiritual journey. Don’t miss out on seeing all that God has for you in life because you refuse to look through the lens of Christ!