Eyes on the Conductor
Oops! Alexandra started before the conductor gave the signal. He looked at my granddaughter and she immediately stopped. Not a good beginning, but she is learning. Timing is important and beginning too soon was not ideal. The rest of the concert went well, no more glitches. I must say that the seventh and eighth graders played extremely well and the music was beautiful. I am an extremely proud grandma.
I began to reflect on the fact that Alex began on a wrong note, even though her violin playing had improved. These reflections allowed God to teach me some new lessons and to relearn forgotten ones.
Practice is important. We don’t play our notes well or at the right moment if we don’t practice. Alex’s playing had improved with practice. The first time you share the gospel may not work so well. Keep at it, keep practicing. We all need to practice kindness, faithfulness, prayer, and witnessing. The list can go on and on. Watch a small child or a new believer pray. Often they don’t know how to begin or what to even pray for. However, if they are taught the Lord’s Prayer, read the Psalms, or just pray, they improve. Their words may still be simple, but no longer are they at a loss to know how to approach God or how to pray. We all need to practice, to pray without ceasing. When the difficulties come, I need to know that God listens and will give me direction. The more I have sought out the Lord, the quicker I go to Him. The musicians needed to have practiced with the conductor to know what to look for when he raised his hands. It wasn’t automatic. He had taught the students. They had spent time practicing together not once, but over and over again.
Watch the Conductor. Do we keep our eyes on Jesus? The hymn “Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus” comes to mind. Jesus is the one that we should watch. He will let us know when to begin. How often do we, like Alex, start before we should, and play the note at the wrong moment. Alex turned her eyes back to the conductor, recognized her error, and quit playing. Do we recognize that we have not been watching Jesus as we should? Do I stop, and then watch Jesus, my Conductor?
“I keep my eyes always on the LORD. With him at my right hand, I will not be shaken.” (Psalm16:8 NIV)
Don’t watch others. The musicians can listen to the others play and be blessed by it, but they need to play only the notes written for them. The bass and the violin play different notes to the same piece. Each person needs to play his part, not someone else’s. God knows what instrument needs to be played, and at what moment. That is not our responsibility. I often watch and compare myself with others, and miss playing my part.
Don’t quit. Alexandra didn’t quit. She looked for the conductor to raise his hands, and she began again at the right moment. I want to do the same. I want God’s timing. Sometimes I think I have the answers, and I’m out of sync with God’s leading. My desire is to follow his lead, but I’m either ahead or late. I should just stop, and then start again at the right moment. The conductor didn’t ask her to leave because of a mistake. So don’t think God is going to ask you to leave. He wants us just to stop, and start again, letting Him direct. God wants us to be a part of His orchestra. Don’t quit! Just stop, and look to Him again.
“Then Jesus told his disciples a parable to show them that they should always pray and not give up.” (Luke 18:1 NIV)
Now that I have reflected, I am prouder of the fact that Alexandra didn’t quit rather than her ability to play the beautiful music. She looked to the conductor and began again. I need to follow her example and begin once again.
Lord, I thank you for allowing me to be a part of your orchestra, to practice, to watch you, and begin anew. May we all begin again and not quit!
Fixing My Eyes on Jesus
“In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that the proven genuineness of your faith — of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire — may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed.” 1 Peter 1:6-7 (NIV)
Every one of us has problems that feel like we are walking through a “fiery” time in life. What fuel has God the Refiner added to the fire of your life, as He works to reveal Jesus in and through you?
Has the heat intensified to an almost unbearable level? Maybe it’s marriage problems, and your spouse walked out? Or financial problems, and now the bank says it’s foreclosing? Or challenges at work, and now the boss says they no longer need you?
Whatever the situation or intensity of the heat, be encouraged! When a refiner purifies gold, he melts it in a pot over a fire. He keeps turning up the heat until the dross, or impurities, rise to the surface. He then bends over the gold to skim off the dross and continues doing so, until he can see his face reflected in the surface of the liquid gold.
Gold refined in the fire is a meaningful visual of how God refines us. (Malachi 3:2-3) He knows exactly how hot the “fire” needs to be to bring the impurities in our hearts, minds and lives to the surface of our attention, enabling Him to skim them off until He can see His own image reflected in us. When He turns up the heat, we need to fix our eyes on Him, totally trusting Him to know exactly what He’s doing.
The Refiner has added fuel to the fire in my life. On August 17, 2015, between 3 and 3:30 p.m., I discovered my husband, Danny, unresponsive in our pool. Two days later, he was Home in heaven! Three years to the day, on the afternoon of August 17, 2018, at the very same time of day, 3 to 3:30, I was diagnosed with breast cancer.
When I realized the strange “coincidence” of the timing, I came to the chilling conclusion it was evidence of an enemy assault. But just as that thought was forming, I heard the soft, gentle whisper of the Spirit, reminding me that it was on a Friday, during that very same time — between 3 and 3:30 in the afternoon — that God’s Passover Lamb was sacrificed. Jesus died on the very same day of the week, at the very same time of day, crushing the head of the serpent, forever defeating the devil and death.
Praise God! The cross, the blood of God’s Lamb, trumps anything the devil can throw at us or assign to us!
“In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that the proven genuineness of your faith — of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire — may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed” (1 Peter 1:6-7).
So I am left to fix my eyes on the Refiner … the One ultimately in control. Of everything. Trusting Him. Especially with the intensity of the heat.
Each day since the cancer diagnosis, God has given me encouragement from His Word. God has been — and is — my refuge and strength, an ever-present help in this trouble. Therefore, I will not fear … but He’s also made it clear we need each other. One promise God brought to mind is James 5:16, “Pray for each other so that you may be healed.”
I’m confident my healing will be not just an answer to my prayer, but the prayers of others for me, whether healing without surgery, with surgery, with surgery plus follow-up treatment, or through the greater miracle of the resurrection. And your healing — physical, emotional, spiritual or mental — may also be an answered prayer for others as their faith strengthens yours.
The following poem is one I handwrote in my first Bible when I was 9 years old. I don’t know what led me to treasure it, but it seems appropriate for me now, and maybe it is for you, too:
Trust Him when dark doubts assail thee.
Trust Him when thy strength is small.
Trust Him when to simply trust Him
Is the hardest thing of all.
Trust Him, He is ever faithful.
Trust Him for His will is best.
Trust Him for the heart of Jesus
Is the only place to rest.
Trust Him then through tears and sunshine,
All thy cares upon Him cast,
‘Til the storms of life are over,
And the trusting days are past.
As I follow the Good Shepherd through this Valley of the Shadow, I am firmly fixing my eyes on Jesus with a heart of absolute trust. My prayer is that my faith would be purified, God would be glorified, and Jesus would be magnified through every step I take on this new journey, until the Refiner sees His own reflection mirrored in my life.
How to Keep Your Eyes on Jesus
We have a choice to make. Do we believe the World or do we believe the Lord? We have to live in this world, but we are smart to discover how not to be of the world.
Because the fact of the matter is that you can’t serve both.
You will either serve God or you will serve the world.
The world tries to tell us that we need to be rich, powerful, successful, beautiful, funny, outgoing and (fill in the blank).
But, as Christians, the world is not our maker – and it is certainly not our master.
Yet, sometimes we act like it is. It tells us what we need to believe, how we should act and what we should say. And we follow in step. Its words can often seem louder than the Word of God – especially if we aren’t taking time to hear the Word of God.
The world’s magnetic pull draws us close and we tend to get consumed us with its standards rather than getting consumed with the one who holds all life, all love and all power.
The truth is, we can’t focus on two destinations. It’s impossible. You can’t drive to two places at once. And that is exactly what we are attempting to do. We say we are driving towards Christ, yet that enticing off ramp pulls us off our course.
We continually get distracted when we take our eyes off the road leading to Christ.
We follow signs that direct us to pleasure and enjoyment – and we get sidetracked. We see the stop sign that offers a perfect moment to look at our needs in the mirror – and our voyage is halted. We see a billboard that advertises a perfect face of beauty, riches and power – and we get thinking. Then, we get lost.
Let’s not set ourselves on a crash course. In order to do this, we are wise to think about what we are thinking about – and what we shouldn’t be thinking about. Likewise, we have to look at what we are believing – and not believing. Because, we either have our eyes set on Christ or we are swerving down the roads of the world, ready to head straight into a ditch.
God calls us to focus.
To keep our eyes on Christ.
To avoid looking at what everyone else is doing, being, and saying – and to instead see Him.
Keep your eyes on Jesus, who both began and finished this race we’re in. Study how he did it. Because he never lost sight of where he was headed – that exhilarating finish in and with God (Hebrews 12:2 The Message)
When our eyes are on Christ, they are not on the world.
And, when our eyes are on the world, they are not on Christ.
Lets fix our eyes on the One who provides all direction, all hope and all purpose by keeping focused eyes.
- Focused eyes understand He is the One who provides all good things.
- Focused eyes, let the world become blurry.
- Focused eyes allow God to magnify the right ministry opportunities.
- Focused eyes spend time connecting with God on the daily basis.
- Focused eyes see those that need love.
- Focused eyes are focused on the needs of others before themselves.
- Focused eyes are not just focused on TV.
- Focused eyes understand that God has big plans for them.
- Focused eyes know that God is greater than any circumstance.
- Focused eyes know that God has not forgotten them.
- Focused eyes know that God is alive, well and aware of all things.
- Focused eyes know God will rescue and restore.
Focused eyes do not veer off the road. They steer clear of potholes. They avoid dark areas.
The result is a life that is full of Christ, abundant in love, strong in purpose, weak in pride, engaging in relationships, authentic in grace and powerful in faith. We all want this.
When we meet Jesus, we want him to turn to us and say, “‘Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your master.” (Matthew 25:21)
When our eyes are focused, we won’t miss out on what God has for us. The opposite happens – we see ourselves and our lives with amazing clarity. We receive the goodness, the peace and the love that God has in store for us as believers because we are not sidetracked. We need not fear because the Lord will keep us safe.