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  • Shawn Thornton

Where to Look When It's Hard to See

Thursday - May 7th

Today's Scripture to Read: Hebrews 12:1-2


Many of the great hymns of the faith came to us through the life experiences and stories of average Christians seeking to live out their faith in a complicated world. Horatio Spafford wrote It Is Well with My Soul at the same spot on the ocean where, weeks earlier, his wife and three daughters were a part of a shipwreck. Spafford's wife was the only survivor in their family. English clergyman John Newton penned the great hymn Amazing Grace as part of his reflection on his horrible participation in the African slave trade years earlier. Amazing Grace became his hymn of testimony, originally written to accompany a New Year's Day sermon Newton delivered January 1st, 1773. He never dreamed it would stand the test of time.

Not all of our hymns came through life experience and challenge. Some hymn writers set out purely to bring honor and worship to God - to exalt Him. In 1225, St. Francis of Assisi wrote the hymn now known as All Creatures of Our God and King. Music researchers believe he wrote it in a garden in Assisi that still exists today and that he based this great hymn on Psalm 148. His song was translated into English in 1919. 

Another song with ancient roots that transcends time and is based purely on the worship of God apart from life experience is the song Lesli and I started our wedding ceremony with thirty years ago - Be Thou My Vision. Written somewhere between the 12th and 14th centuries in Ireland, Be Thou My Vision puts to song the urging of Hebrews 12:2 that we should keep our eyes on Jesus.

Our current circumstances brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic escorted us into a thick fog. We cannot see what education, work, recreation, shopping, and travel look like next week - let alone the second half of 2020. As Lesli and I started our life-long journey of marriage on Saturday, June 30th, 1990, we had no idea what ups and downs we would experience together.

If you had told us that in our thirtieth year of marriage the world would be in the grip of a worldwide pandemic that brought economies and societies to a standstill, we would not have believed you. If you had told us on January 1st of this year that we would be wearing masks in public to protect our health and the health of others, we might have laughed. If anyone in the first twenty-nine years of our marriage had told us we would be practicing "social distancing" for months, we would have thought they had lost their minds. 

Life has a way of bringing us through seasons and periods when it is hard to see what lies ahead in any shape or form. Where do we look when it is hard to see? We look at Jesus. Peter confidently looked toward Jesus while he walked on the surface of the water during a horrendous storm on the Sea of Galilee. Only when he got his eyes off of Jesus, did he begin to sink. He was distracted by the wind and the waves. Instead of looking at Jesus, he doubted Jesus' ability to keep his feet on top of the water. He stared so intently at the distractions of that dark, stormy night that He failed to keep his eyes on the Savior.

Have you been having a hard time seeing what's next in your life - even your day? Have your eyes drifted to the distractions around you? Do you stare unceasingly at a horizon you cannot clearly see? Read the words of Be Thou My Vision a few times over the next several days. Memorize Hebrews 12:2. Recite it back to yourself when you cannot see. Keep your eyes on Jesus!

Be Thou My Vision

Be Thou my vision, O Lord of my heart

Naught be all else to me, save that Thou art

Thou my best Thought, by day or by night

Waking or sleeping, Thy presence my light

Where do we look when we cannot see? That's easy. We look to Jesus!


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