While working on my latest book project I started thinking about what it really means to turn and face Jesus in our daily life. In so doing, this old hymn came to mind;
For those of you who ignored the video link, (I know you’re out there, I tend to do the same thing. Who has time to watch a 3 minute video anyway?), here are the key lyrics I want to zero in on;
Turn your eyes Upon Jesus
Look Full in His Wonderful Face
And the Things of Life Will Grow Strangely Dim
In The Light of His Glory and Grace. [Helen H Lammel]
I don’t know about you but there are a lot of times I think that if I did turn my eyes upon Jesus I would not feel nearly as much peace as this song suggests. Turning your eyes to Jesus essentially means two things.
#1 – It means turning your back on all that is NOT Jesus. That’s hard. Our culture is geared to be self centred and self serving, when you attempt to go a different way there will be resistance. Jesus’ own words to those who wanted to follow him pretty much summed that up.
23 Then he said to them all: “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me. 24 For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will save it. [Luke 9:23-24]
To paraphrase what Jesus is really saying here, “if you want to follow me, be prepared to die.” Theologians will argue whether or not that is a literal or metaphorical death, personally and for the point I’m making, I think it can be both, but I’m no theologian.
#2 – It means looking at someone who knows everything there is to know about you. This song focuses on the good aspect of that, the love and the grace that Jesus offers but in order to have grace you first have acknowledge that you need it. Turning your eyes to Jesus means looking at someone who knows all of your failings, all of your sins, all of the evil that is resident within you and knowing that no matter how hard you try you will never measure up. And that can tear the heart out of even the biggest, toughest, most self-confident people we know.
There is a reason why the people who put this video up chose the image of a men bent over in prayer to stay put while the lyrics of this song scrolled by. Even though the end result can fill you with great joy, this is not a happy song, it is a painful song. In order to experience the joy that comes from following Jesus you first much experience the pain involved in turning away from your old life.
The Christian life is not easy, but it is worth it. Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus….