‘Let us fix our eyes on Jesus the author and perfecter of our faith, who... sat down at the right hand of the throne of God” (Hebrews 12:2).
The story is told of a man who hired an experienced guide to lead him on a hike into the Swiss Alps. After many hours they came to a high and remote mountain pass. To the man’s dismay, he saw that that path had almost been washed out. What could he do? To the left was a sheer rock cliff, to his right a precipice that dropped nearly 1000 feet. Looking down, the man felt his head growing faint and his knees beginning to buckle. At that moment his guide shouted, “Do not look down or you are a dead man. Keep your eyes on me, and where I put my feet, put yours there as well.” The man did as he was instructed and soon he passed from danger to safety.
This is good advice for the beginning of a new year. No one knows what lies ahead for any of us. We know what is right now. As much as we wish we could have made a clean break from all the chaos and turmoil of 2020 we know they have followed us into 2021. But we would be naïve to assume that there won’t be struggles and obstacles that are new to 2021. Being told that Jesus sits at the right hand of the throne of God is a way of reminding us Who is in control. So keep your eyes on Jesus. Don’t be turned aside or distracted by the things of the world.
When hard times come, don’t start with your circumstances and try to find Jesus. Start with Jesus and then go back to your circumstances. This is a profoundly important principle. Hard times often trip us up because we can’t understand how or why God would allow certain things to happen to us. But you will never find Jesus by rummaging around in your tattered circumstances. If you start with your problems, it will be nearly impossible to find the Lord. Start with Jesus.
Go back to the Bible. Be reminded of His mercy, His grace, His kindness, His power, and His wisdom. Once you have laid the foundation from the Word of God, then you can find your way back to your circumstances. That doesn’t mean you will understand all that happens to you but it does mean that your starting point is all-important. Start with Jesus, not your problems.
Let those who name the name of the Lord rejoice in him. Remember who you are and whose you are. God has not given us a spirit of fear but of love and power and a sound mind (II Timothy 1:7). Let that truth of God give you strength when you feel like you cannot go on.
In Christ there is full acceptance, therefore do not doubt him.
In Christ there is peace, therefore trust him.
In Christ there is life, therefore abide in him.
In Christ there is blessing, therefore delight in him.
In Christ there is light, therefore follow him.
In Christ there is power, therefore wait on him.
In Christ there is all truth, therefore learn from him.
In Christ there is grace, therefore receive from him.
In Christ there is joy, therefore rejoice in him.
In Christ there is strength, therefore lean on him.
Everything we need we will find in Christ. He has all the hope, all the love, all the grace, all the power, all the strength, all the wisdom, all the patience, all the guidance, all the encouragement, all the joy, all the endurance, all the gentleness, all the forgiveness, all the determination, all the submission, all the boldness, and all the meekness that we need. Every virtue is in him. Every good thing we need he has.
Where we set our focus determines how we respond to circumstances. If 2020 has proven anything there are a lot of us who need to readjust our focus. We have often allowed the problems and struggles to affect our perspective, to control our attitudes, emotions and actions. We will face struggles in 2021. Some will be residual from 2020 and some will be new but if we fix our eyes on Jesus, step where He steps, He will enable us, empower us to not only safely navigate the uncertainties ahead but to do so with a different perspective... a perspective of hope!
Kyle Blanton is Pastor, Pee Dee Baptist Church