July 30, 2018
Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus
I lift up my eyes to the mountains—where does my help come from? My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth (Psalm 121:1-2, NIV).
Friend to Friend
Some of my earliest memories include hymns, with my mom sitting at the black upright piano in our den. She’d tuck me into bed with a lyrical blessing, long fingers tickling my back, then she’d walk down the hall and tickle the ivories. Amazing Grace, What a Friend We Have in Jesus, It is Well with My Soul, Great is Thy Faithfulness… wafting up into the rafters, serenading me to sleep.
Forty years later, and the same melodic truths my mother sang into my sub-consciousness come playing through my mind from time to time. During seasons of depression, they serenade me still. When anxiety threatens, they lull me back to sleep like a lullaby. And in joyful times of celebration, these hymns are my worship songs. Up they come, an artesian spring from the deepest parts of me, spilling back out over my lips like Bible verses hidden in my heart. They remind me what’s true when I’m most in need of truth. Sometimes, I even find myself quoting a Bible verse only to realize that I’m actually citing the lyric of some old song. Hymns are woven into the bedrock fibers of my theology— a harmony to Scripture’s melody.
Perhaps, the short chorus I sing most often, as a reminder to my heart, is this one sweet exhortation:
Turn your eyes upon Jesus,
Look full in His wonderful face,
And the things of earth will grow strangely dim,
In the light of His glory and grace.
I can’t type the words without hearing my mom’s strong soprano in my mind. Nor can I sing the song without remembering the Psalmist’s cry: I lift up my eyes to the mountains—where does my help come from?
Whether you’ve been wronged by a friend, abandoned by a father, misunderstood by a husband, tempted to fear over a child’s diagnosis, obsessed with your own self-focus, passed up for a promotion, or worse… both the song and the Psalm can remind you where to turn your gaze.
When you fix your focus on your Redeemer’s face, a supernatural shift occurs. Like a spotlight moving from the minor characters waiting in the wings to the star, center stage. God’s generous narrative is always the place to turn your eyes, even when you don’t understand what He’s up to. His nature, His past faithfulness, His grace and forgiveness, and the promise of an eternity free of sorrow changes everything. Hope and joy are possible when we lift our eyes and lift our hearts and lift our voices too… seeing and singing what’s true.
In 1922, at the age of 55, Helen Howarth Lemmel had lost her husband and her sight. Alone and nearly destitute, she heard a pastor say, “So then, turn your eyes upon Him, look full into His face and you will find that the things of earth will acquire a strange new dimness.”
Almost immediately, the lyrics of Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus flooded her mind. She describes the supernatural experience like this: “I stood still and singing in my soul and spirit was the chorus, with not one conscious moment of putting word to word to make rhyme or note to note to make melody.”
The thought that God used a woman without sight to tell us where to shift our eyes is beautifully poetic. I know firsthand that when my mind is stayed on Christ, the rest of the details in my life are more manageable, less overwhelming. With Christ at the forefront of my attention and affection, everything else shifts into its rightful place. When we shift our gaze to Christ, everything else shifts too.
The kindness of His countenance, the reality of His rescue, the never-ending-ness of His extravagance shines a heavenly light on what matters most. And all the cobwebby corners of this life suddenly “grow strangely dim.”
Dear Lord, thank You for being eternally trustworthy and good. What a weight that truth lifts from my feeble shoulders. Your strength is greater than my weakness; Your vantage point is greater than my nearsightedness; Your redeeming love never tires, though I do; and the brightness of Your plan causes all of my plans to grow strangely dim. Thank You, bright and beautiful, Lord.
In Jesus’ Name,
Now It’s Your Turn
Last week my mom sent that same piano, the one she played for fifty years, to our home. She’s growing older now and sitting upright at the keys for long periods of time causes her terrible back pain. My oldest son, however, is just fourteen and loves music as much as his grandmother. Tomorrow he has his first piano lesson at 11:30, at a music shop down on Grand. With Grandma’s hymnal prominently and purposefully displayed over the keyboard at home, I’m hopeful that I’ll hear those same songs sung by another generation to the next. Because, in our family, Hymns are the soundtrack to our days— a harmony to Scripture’s melody.
Do you have a favorite song that that comes to your mind like a lyrical reminder of God’s unfailing love — reminding you to turn your face to Jesus? Put it on and lift your voice and lift your eyes today!
More from the Girlfriends
If you love the old songs of our faith as much as we do, sign up to receive free decorative prints from WendySpeake.com. Every season you’ll receive three beautiful, downloadable graphics to decorate your heart and home. Each series includes a scripture, a quote, and a lyric from one of Wendy’s favorite hymns.
Wendy Speake: As a trained actress and heartfelt Bible teacher, Wendy ministers to women’s hearts through storytelling and Biblical life application. During her career in Hollywood, on shows such as JAG, Melrose Place, and Star Trek Voyager, Wendy found herself longing to tell stories that edify and encourage women. Today she does just that, writing parenting books and performing dramatic Bible lessons for women’s groups, taking every opportunity to point audiences to Jesus. Author of Triggers, Parenting Scripts, and Life Creative. Wendy resides in Southern California with her husband and their 3 ruddy boys. Follow her busy faith and family journey at WendySpeake.com.
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