Jen’s Gem: Change Your Focus. Change Your Life.
Several years ago, I read “The Shack,” by William P. Young. When I heard they were making a movie about it, I couldn’t wait to see it. Ok. Ok. Maybe it was Tim McGraw who I couldn’t wait to see! Circumstances as they were for a busy mom, I didn’t get a chance to see it in the theater but instead watched it when it came out on demand. I cried through most of the movie. It was and is that powerful.
When I saw the movie again recently with friends of mine, we watched the extra footage at the end as well as listened to the song from the movie by Faith Hill, “Keep Your Eyes on Me.” This song is hauntingly beautiful and uplifting. I immediately scooped it up on iTunes and it is a staple in my playlist especially if I’m having a tough day. I encourage you to take a listen.
The song and the movie brought a long-ago memory to forefront of my mind that I want to share with you.
It was 2003, on or about the time of my divorce. I was overwhelmed with work, caring for my two children, and finances. I wondered how I was going to be able to do it all. One morning as I lay in bed in that dream state before fully waking, I saw a vision above my head, plain as day.
It was Jesus.
There He stood, dressed in a long white tunic, arms to his side with palms open. I immediately noticed the nail marks in His hands and feet. He was surrounded by a white light that to this day I can’t describe. His face reflected an expression of pure love. I stared at this image for what seemed like forever but then turned away as I remembered some tenet from my religious upbringing that said you were not allowed to look upon the face of God. But I couldn’t help myself. I could not take my eyes off of Jesus.
In that moment, all of my anxiety and worry melted away. As I basked in this peaceful bliss, trying to soak it all in, He spoke to me, saying only a few words.
“I will always take care of you.”
Needless to say, this small town girl from eastern Long Island was floored. Did the Son of God just speak to me? It was enough to see Him, let alone have Him speak to me. I couldn’t believe it.
I left for work that morning with a peace I’d never known. Ever. I couldn’t concentrate on my work and decided that I had to tell someone or I’d pop. What did it mean? What do I do?
I told the story to a colleague who I perceived as being very spiritual. As I relayed the story to her, her eyes grew wide. When I asked her what it meant, she stated the obvious. Jesus told you that He’d always take care of you.
I share this story with you, known by only a handful of my closest confidantes, because I believe it’s a powerful message. A life-changing message for you or perhaps someone you know who’s struggling with the weight of the world on their shoulders and needs a lifeboat.
Jesus has stayed true to His word. Even though I’ve made some pretty dumb decisions since that day, He’s had my back. Even though I doubted His hand over my life at times, He never took it away. Even though I bounced from one spiritual practice to another, He never abandoned me.
He’s watched over my kids. He’s kept me in outstanding health so I could care for them. He’s placed good people in my life to support me. He even helped me and my ex-husband get to a place of friendship so we could co-parent our children.
These are miracles my friend. Maybe not earth shattering miracles but miracles, because I couldn’t see my way out of a paper bag during the troubling times of my life. It was Jesus who never left me. Jobs ended. Friendships ended. But He saw me through it all.
Today, my life is completely different than that morning long ago. The fancy corporate job with the big paycheck and VP title are long gone. I thought I needed both of these to be happy, successful, but I don’t. I am the happiest I’ve been in years. I have a job I enjoy, new friends who love and support me, and my good health has continued. My kids are doing well and there’s much to be grateful for.
Jesus said he’d always take care of me and He did. So when in prayerful meditation each morning I hear things like “Be still and know that I am God,” or “Keep your eyes on me today,” I don’t have to run to a colleague to figure out what it means. I know who said it. I know why. And most importantly, I listen. In fact, I even put reminders on my phone to pause periodically to offer up a prayer of thanks. I don’t want my eyes to be focused on anything or anyone other than the One who keeps His promises.
Where are your eyes today? What are you focused on? Is it your bank balance or your kid’s homework or maybe a long to-do list? While these are not trivial, if they consume your time and attention, you will inevitably end up stressed, worried, and possibly ill. There’s a better way.
I encourage you to take a moment – just a moment. Focus your eyes upward. Be still. In the blink of an eye, Jesus can say something to you that will change your life forever. The seven words He spoke to me that morning changed mine and I will never look back.
“I will always take care of you.”