Thursday, April 18, 2013

Double-Vision

A few weeks ago on Good Friday, the pastor of my church, Jim Congdon, preached a great message entitled, "Shame."  In his sermon, Pastor Jim spoke in detail of the different shames and pains Christ endured when He suffered on the cross for all of us.  I'll never forget one of his comments.  He said that on Good Friday we have one eye on Christ's suffering and death in our grief and remembrance of His great love for us.  But we also have the other eye fixed on Easter Sunday on the celebration of Jesus' resurrection and victory over that pain and death.  So true--there would be no Easter Sunday without Good Friday, and vice versa.

This got me thinking.  There are many situations in life where we need to have that same metaphorical, "double-vision."  When cooking a meal, I typically have more than one item on the stove or in the oven at a time.  It requires me to keep an eye on one thing and the other eye on another item.  I don't always do this well (ah hem...my husband, Matt, would argue that as an empty-nester, I now don't do this often, either)!  But when I don't watch both items successfully, it is always because I am distracted (and since I only have two eyes, maybe there's a correlation?)!  We need double-vision in our work and ministries, as well.  When I rehearse music with my bands, I focus on the present in learning and preparing, but I also ponder and envision the actual moment we play and the people to whom we will be ministering, serving, and/or entertaining.  This helps me stay mindful of the reason I am doing what I do--I call it the, "who" factor.  God and others must be the reason for my ministries and work, or it is all in vain.

Another specific instance where double-vision is necessary is in raising our kids.  We not only see our kids for the youngsters they are, but we look ahead to the people they will become--and we parent accordingly.  We relish the seasons they go through at each stage (hopefully, and with much prayer).  But we also look forward to the rites of passage and changes we will observe as they grow and develop.  We seek to protect and teach them various life-skills at age-appropriate times when it will benefit them most.  Double-vision comes in handy here, to say the least.

There really aren't any areas of life where having, "double-vision," isn't required or helpful.  I could further extrapolate the metaphor to my marriage.  Matt and I try to make the right choices in our decisions and dealings in our life together as a couple so as to maintain a healthy, honest relationship and not hurt the blessing God has given us in each other.  We operate in the present, but we reflect on the past in thinking of all God has brought us through together.  We look to the future and strive to make choices that will shield, preserve, and nourish our life as one unit.  Though we are two units by the world's standards and definition, God says that we are technically one in Him.  So I keep one eye on my own life and the other on the life I have with Matt--they aren't actually separate.  Matt is my friend above all other friends.  He is "in the loop" on all levels with me--even the uncomfortable, unpleasant ones.  That's what marriage is all about--you're there for each other through thick and thin.  At times, you have one eye on the, "thick," and one eye on the, "thin."  If you don't, your focus is off pretty quickly.  Praise God for His grace, mercy, and love.  When we turn to Him, He helps us in our weakness to realign things when imbalance occurs.  But it demands this same double-vision--we have one eye on our spouse and one eye on God.

Not only do we need this same, "now and later" double-vision in the specific areas of our lives, but also in our lives as a whole.   God has given us much to manage on earth--our spouses, kids, families, homes, ministries, jobs, friends, money, and health all require our focus now for better living later.  We deal more effectively with the business of the lives God has given us by living in the present, not the past.  But we do need to look to the future so we can invest wisely in the legacy we desire to leave behind for Christ's glory and to those we love.  To deal best with the tough stuff we face, we not only focus on our battles, but we also fix an eye on our real home in heaven.  Doing this helps us better handle the problems and struggles we face in life because it remind us where our real motivation, true life's purpose, real identity, and eternal home are found.  But I cannot focus only on heaven and accomplish the work and purposes God has for me here.  Likewise, I cannot live only in the present here on earth, or I will lose sight of my mission and the source of my strength--my God.  The Bible tells us in many various passages that we as Christians are to be, "IN but not OF this world."  Since earth is evil and is not our real home or final destiny, we need to view ourselves in this binary way.  We are presently here working and striving, but we do so with an eternal mission and future in mind.  Things may not be perfect here, but they will be one day.  We're just passing through this life. 

Please don't misunderstand me--having double-vision is not the same thing as being, "double-minded."  When you are double-minded, you do not have a streamlined mission or purpose in your life.  Perhaps you don't even have one at all.  Maybe you want to have your vision focused on God, but you are more fixated on the world and what others say or influence you to do.  This is, "double-mindedness."  I am suggesting that we need double-vision with single-mindedness.  I would urge you to make sure that God has ultimate relevance in your single-minded living.  Otherwise your double-vision will become blurred--you won't see anything in life clearly or correctly.  With God, your vision will be clear and your life will become more balanced.  Give Him your heart, and He'll help you keep a sharp eye on your life and a fixed eye on Him.

Relevant Scriptures:

Hebrews 12:1-2, "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, 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."

Isaiah 44:18, "They know nothing, they understand nothing; their eyes are plastered over so they cannot see, and their minds closed so they cannot understand."

Psalm 119:18, "Open my eyes that I may see wonderful things in Your law."

Ephesians 1:18, "I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which He has called you, the riches of His glorious inheritance in His holy people."

Psalm 19:8, "The precepts of the Lord are right, giving joy to the heart.  The commands of the Lord are radiant, giving light to the eyes."

Colossians 3:2, "Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things."

Romans 8:5, "For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit."

Proverbs 4:25, "Let your eyes look directly forward, and your gaze be straight before you."

Proverbs 16:3, "Commit your work to the Lord, and your plans will be established."

Psalm 32:8, "I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you with My eye upon you." 

Matthew 6:33, "But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you."