Nylse is a Christian wife and a mother of four who loves life and inspiring others. She recently published her first book - My Best Marriage Advice. She likes to have fun but is very clear on who she is and Whose she is. A prolific thinker, she blogs to encourage others from a Christian perspective at www.lifenotesencouragement.com. She can be found online on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest.
Within each of us are two dueling natures, and primarily what we feed thrives. As Christians, we are called to be light in the world.
Our eyes are the light of the body, so when our eyes are healthy our whole body is full of light, and when they're not we are full of darkness. Dueling natures.
So what are you feeding your eyes? Do you struggle with spending too much time surfing the net (like I sometimes do)? Or are you sharpening your vision by spending time in God's word, helping others and enjoying camaraderie with like-minded Christians? What do you spend your time watching and reading? Do you read the Bible (reading is fundamental)? Taking this a step further, are you consumed by angry thoughts that you continue to feed? Do you love a juicy story but all of a sudden find yourself talking more about people instead of praying for them? Is what you see affecting your thought life and your interactions with others?
Since I wear glasses and contact lenses, I practice proper eye care to maintain my vision. As I'm getting older, I recognize how much my eyesight has changed, so a more significant effort is required to ensure my vision is clear. The same is true of our spiritual eyes which is the lamp for the whole body.
“No one lights a lamp and puts it in a place where it will be hidden, or under a bowl. Instead, they put it on its stand, so that those who come in may see the light. Your eye is the lamp of your body. When your eyes are healthy, your whole body also is full of light. But when they are unhealthy, your body also is full of darkness. See to it, then, that the light within you is not darkness. Therefore, if your whole body is full of light, and no part of it dark, it will be just as full of light as when a lamp shines its light on you (Luke 11:33-36 [NLT]).”
Open my eyes that I may see wonderful things in your law. Psalms 119:18
How is your eye health? How do you deal with changes in your vision?
I run and often to get through a long run I listen to music. I don't necessarily need the music, but I've convinced myself that running with music makes it go faster, more enjoyable and less painful. The reality is, it's all in my head. How do I know? The other day, while on a long run, I realized how much I was missing by being distracted. On this particular run, I had no headphones and soon realized that there were benefits to running without the distraction of music. I could focus on the road ahead, I could hear traffic and nature, and I could literally smell the roses. Because I was "present," I could adapt quicker - I could adjust my breathing or my stride, and what I thought was scary or daunting, actually was not - it was all in my head. Sometimes, I think we use distractions as a crutch.
Our Christian walk is like a run on a long winding road; a marathon, not a sprint. Many times on this journey we rely on distractions to get us through - music, computers, books, friends, jobs, money, and church involvement; anything but spending time in His presence, with His Word, meditating on His goodness. We're not on this journey alone, so it's sometimes baffling why we feel the need to distract ourselves in the first place. The distractions aren't horrible in and of themselves - we can listen to Gospel music, find Christian websites, read great devotionals and have crucial conversations. But sometimes they distract to the point of replacing and this is where the danger lies. We rely more on our distractions than on Him.
When I'm distracted, I don't focus well; my communication is a little off, and there is fleeting attention on my part. This distraction impacts my prayer life and time spent reading His word resulting in doublemindedness and instability. My distractions shift my hope to me instead of Him.
Removing my headphones on my long run made it more enjoyable. In the same vein, I'm eliminating distractions in my Christian walk so that I can truly focus on the Lord. I want to bask in His presence. Therefore, I need to be present. Distractions are always a challenge, but with God's help, I’ll stay focused on Him.
I will study your commandments and reflect on your ways. I will delight in your decrees and not forget your word. Psalms 119:15, 16
Don’t let distractions deter you.
Recently, schools were closed due to a "credible threat" that would have negatively impacted a significant number of schools and students in my area. Everyone said, "better safe than sorry," but many of the responses seem to reflect the repercussions of our current world. We are living in dangerous times.
There was an element of fear in these responses. Living in fear is draining, exhaustive, and crippling. Faith, on the other hand, produces the opposite effects - rejuvenation, revitalization, and growth. I would like to suggest we live by faith instead.
Fear is the opposite of faith. If we only trust in the things that we can see in this world we will be fearful. On a regular basis, we are dealing with terrorism - domestic and international, economic downturns, natural disasters, health scares, unemployment. We are consumed by what the future will look like for our children. There is always something to worry about! However, the Bible provides excellent comfort on why we need not live in fear.
So be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid and do not panic before them. For the Lord your God will personally go ahead of you. He will neither fail you nor abandon you. Deuteronomy 31:6[NLT]
Even when I walk through the darkest valley, I will not be afraid, for you are close beside me. Your rod and your staff protect and comfort me. Psalms 23:4 [NLT]
The Lord is for me, so I will have no fear. What can mere people do to me? Psalms 118:6 [NLT]
Ultimately, when we are fearful or living in fear, we are only relying on ourselves, and we know our limitations. We think with a limited mindset. But God is not like that - He's not like us in this regard - He is above all, understands all, and controls it all. Instead of relying on my limited self, I will trust and hold on to an unlimited God and in so doing live by faith instead of fear.
If we are ever in fearful situations, I know God gives us the faith and corresponding actions, to make the best decisions at the time.
The verses above are only a snippet of what God says about fear. If you spend significant time digging into the Word and take His words to heart, you will recognize how much God cares for us and does not want us to be fearful regardless of what we are dealing with. You will have to choose to believe what He says, not what you think. This will take time, but new circumstances will always provide opportunities for choosing faith. You won't perfect this on this earth, but you can get pretty close because you are not doing this alone. God is with you.
Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. Hebrews 11:1 [KJV]
Faith or fear - what will it be for you?