Devotional: Fix Your Eyes
Last week, Josh, Wesley and I spent a few days in the Outer Banks of North Carolina with Josh’s (and now my) family. There were about thirty people, including us, who gathered from all over the United States, to spend a week enjoying fellowship, food, worship, and God’s glorious creation. It was truly a glimpse of heaven for me. The days were beautiful and sunny, filled with sweet conversation and time making memories, and our evenings were filled with worship and deep discussion of how the Lord has worked in each of our lives. One night, as the discussion focused on family and adoption, I shared a little bit of my story with them. I had recently had a conversation with someone about waiting on the Lord and this topic was already on my heart. Before I met and married Josh, I was in two serious relationships. During the time I was in each of these relationships, I was convinced that the person I was dating was the person I was meant to be with. And when both of those relationships ended, I struggled to see God’s goodness in the aftermath and grief. Eventually, I came to realize that there were things about both of those relationships that would have made marriage and a life together difficult for both of us – through no fault of either of these men; I simply realized that we were not meant to be together, as I had thought.
But, I still wanted to be married. I still longed for a husband. The period of waiting was hard. It was difficult to watch many of my friends get married and start families. I felt ashamed by my jealousy, but I couldn’t deny that I was envious of those around me who were embarking on the journey I wanted to begin. In his sermon, Pastor Barry referenced Paul’s exhortation of the Philippian church in chapter 4 verse 3 which says, “Yes, I ask you also, true companion, help these women, who have labored side by side with me in the gospel together with Clement and the rest of my fellow workers, whose names are in the book of life.” (ESV) Pastor Barry explained that Paul is telling the Philippian church to help these women because they know them and have labored side by side with them. They have a relationship with them and through that relationship, they are able to walk alongside them and offer help and encouragement. He goes on to discuss Philippians 4: 6 which says, “do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.” (ESV) He said that through this passage, we find the key to not being anxious – it is to focus our attention on the Lord and not on ourselves. He talked about how the source of anxiety is almost always focused on the self. What will happen to me? How will this affect me and my family? Pastor Barry said the antidote to anxiety is rejoicing in the Lord because it causes us to fix our eyes on Him, not on ourselves and our own limitations.
I was thankful for these words from Pastor Barry as it even more solidified God’s provision for me in a time that was incredibly challenging. As I have reflected on my time of waiting for a husband, I am overcome with thankfulness for how God provided believers to walk with me, the same way that Paul called the Philippian church to walk with Euodia and Syntyche. God had brought me to a place, at Harvest, where I was in community and fellowship with many others who came along side me. I had coffee, lunch, and dinner with women who listened to my story, empathized with me in my waiting, and encouraged me to fix my eyes on Jesus. I participated in studies with my fellow sisters in Christ where we shared in the trials of this life while encouraging each other to trust in the Lord and His goodness. In the same way, when I needed help and encouragement, God brought me to a place to receive it from my fellow sisters in Christ who knew me. And I am so thankful for the Lord’s provision of Godly women who pointed me to Him.
Most of you know that I am now married to Josh. I have been adopted into his family as a daughter, grand-daughter, sister, and cousin. And last week, as I sat in a room full of people who loved me, my husband and son included, I was overcome with gratitude at God’s provision for me. Philippians 4:6-7 says, “do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” During my time of waiting, my anxiety and fear over not finding a husband did not vanish. I still struggled with worry. But, as I was gently reminded to fix my eyes on Christ and dwell on Him, I found it easier to trust that He had a plan for me and to place my fears at his feet. Every time I fixed my gaze on Jesus, my love for Him grew, and God established a love for Jesus that rules my heart to this day as He lovingly and graciously prepared me for the marriage he had planned all along. And as I look back on my story and see God’s goodness in every step (or misstep) along the way, I am affirmed of His abundant love and care for me. Josh is, in so many ways, more than I ever thought to ask God for in a husband, and my new family has blessed me more abundantly than I could have possibly expected.
After writing all of this, I feel convicted of my ongoing tendency towards fear and anxiety when I have so much evidence of God’s goodness in my life. But I think that is why the first part of our sermon text from this weekend is so crucial – we need fellow believers in our lives to point us to Jesus. As Paul exhorts the Philippian church to walk alongside Euodia and Syntyche, we are also called to walk alongside one another! Brothers and sisters, we are all fighting a battle today. We live in a broken world and as a result, we are all facing trials. But when we remind each other to fix our eyes on Christ and rejoice in Him, we remember who He is and how much He loves us. It is only through fixing our eyes on Him that we are able to see how much greater He is than these trials we face in our time here on earth. Will you join me today in encouraging one another to fix our eyes on Christ? As Pastor Barry so gently reminded us, “There is greater hope when you put your trust in Him. And His peace will guard your hearts until Jesus returns.”
Photo Credit: Fa Barboza
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