03 Sep “A Friendly Reminder” by Steve VanHorn
“It’s okay,… focus on Jesus, you can do this!”
Those were the words of my 3 year old as she made her daunting ascent up the playground ladder. Maybe a tad bit dramatic, but I was glad that when she felt overwhelmed her first response was to focus on Jesus.
Life is full of challenges and difficulties, but it’s important to remember truth in the midst of difficulties. It is important to remember something as simple as “focus on Jesus.” This was even the theme of our most recent Vacation Bible School… “Zoom in and Focus on Jesus.” Obviously the idea stuck for my daughter as she faced her own test of faith, albeit an extremely minor one.
But what determines if a test of faith is “minor?” Aren’t we all tested with minor faith crises every day, moment by moment? Often times we overlook the daily opportunities to focus on Jesus. Instead, we bear down and try to get through life’s curveballs on our own. So here are just a few notes in observation of a 3 year old (and scripture) of how to engage life’s moment to moment challenges with the faith of a child (Matthew 18:2-4).
Stop and Observe – Matthew 20 holds one of the most powerful questions in scripture. “And stopping, Jesus called them and said, “What do you want me to do for you?” They said to him, “Lord, let our eyes be opened. And Jesus in pity touched their eyes, and immediately they recovered their sight and followed him” (32-34). The two blind men in this story were at a crossroads and called out in desperation to Jesus. Jesus stopped and then helped them to see (literally) who He was and how He could impact their lives. Sometimes we need to simply stop and recognize areas where we have tried to wrench control of our lives away from God. It is difficult to stop, take a deep breath, and remind yourself to focus on Jesus, the One who gives life and can carry you through life’s difficulties, whether or not they are simple or complex in nature. Doing so takes a tremendous amount of humility and awareness that we are not in control as much as we think we are.
Humble Yourself – Jesus points to the humility of children in Matthew 18. Now I find this interesting because most children, especially young children, swing from one extreme to another on the humility scale. Children can vacillate from needing help with the simplest of tasks, but then stand proudly and defiantly opposed to receiving any help with things that you know they are incapable of doing on their own. We do the same thing. Who gives us the ability to breathe or accomplish any of life’s most basic functions to live? God grants us the ability to to do all of these things, but when we are faced with life’s day to day challenges, we fail to put our lives in the hands of the One who controls everything.
Focus on Jesus – We are each running a race that has numerous hurdles, but a good hurdler doesn’t focus on the hurdles. The focus is on the finish line. The author of Hebrews explains how to navigate the race we are all engaged in this way: “We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith. Because of the joy awaiting him, he endured the cross, disregarding its shame. Now he is seated in the place of honor beside God’s throne” (Hebrews 12:2, NLT). If we focus on Jesus we see a man who perfectly exemplified faith. He overcame life’s most difficult hurdles because He had the end “joy” in mind.
My youngest’s last phrase “you can do this!” should encourage us all. When the author of Hebrews challenged his readers to look to Jesus, he did not set the bar too high. Jesus is the perfect standard and we can never achieve the level of faithfulness and perfection that He did during His life; however, Jesus promises to be with us and empower us to overcome what He already overcame. Together, with Jesus, we can do it!