I was moments away from drifting off to sleep. I had been sent a link to the trailer for a documentary called The Pearl of Great Price.* As I began to listen I suddenly found myself watching a very different story playing on the movie screen of my heart. It was brief but the impact was deep – I not only saw it, I deeply felt it. It was dark, into the evening hours as she continued her labours. Her shoulder length dark hair barely met her bent and weary back. Life had not been easy, too many of her dreams dashed leaving only the shattered pieces behind. The air was thick with her sadness and discouragement, and the toll of her years of hard work was evident. Her dreams of anything better had slowly – like vapour – disappeared into the darkness. It seemed this was – and had been her life – and she no longer had the strength to hope that it would ever be different.
She knew who she was – a disappointment with too many failures under her belt, seemingly missing those key, integral attributes that could have brought success to her life – and while she hated the message she was unlovable and unloved, she had finally accepted it. There was too much evidence. The huge “why” question loomed large in her heart and it filled the atmosphere around her. It seemed as though her life long quest to finally find the answer to this huge question and discover the missing components within her would go unanswered into the future as it had through the past.
Without warning, another scene exploded onto the screen of my heart. Above and slightly before her the atmosphere was filled with brilliant light, purity and beauty. And in a flash I realized this scene represented the real truth of this woman’s life. Yet undiscovered, unseen and unknown to her, she was actually the daughter of the King. This place of pure brilliant light was His Kingdom where a life filled with all the benefits of her royal inheritance awaited her – and more importantly a place where what had happened in the past didn’t matter – she was deeply, indescribably loved. She was wanted, known, accepted and deeply delighted in by her King. All the riches of His Kingdom were hers. All she needed to do was turn her head and fix her gaze above. Totally unaware of all that was really hers – the life that was always intended for her to live and experience: satisfying, fulfilling, a life of being whole and complete – she kept her downward gaze fixed upon her dark and weary world.
My heart was overcome with the depths of the tragedy that had just unfolded before me. I clearly understood this story is happening now – in lives all around me – it had been my own story for far too many years.
As I pondered this, wanting to understand all that it meant, I began to consider the importance of the direction we are facing, our focus, where we have chosen to place our attention. A short time afterward I was driving in the first light of the morning – the highway ahead was treelined on both sides, the pavement was grey and the shadows were dark. I turned my head to the left and was surprised and delighted to discover a sharply contrasting view to the grey, dull one in front of me – the sun was brightly shining over the quaint and pretty little village of Port Williams lighting it up like a picture perfect postcard, the steeple of the Baptist Church framed by the backdrop of the North Mountain – one of my favorite views within the beautiful Annapolis Valley where I live. I easily could have kept driving, looking straight ahead, and I would never have experienced or known the beauty of the sunlit view to my left. A few weeks later, I had arrived at my destination, accomplished what I had come to do and was sitting in my car checking a few messages before pulling away. I was drawn to turn my head to the right where I discovered a beautiful rainbow had emerged over the top of the North Mountain. A smile stretched across my face as my heart was reminded of God’s faithful promises. Once again, I was reminded of the importance of the direction of my gaze. Moses had a similar experience. In Exodus 3:1-6, the account of the burning bush, Moses saw something – likely out of the corner of his eye. A spark of curiosity caused him to stop, turn aside and take a closer look. And because he did, he encountered the Living God and the trajectory of his life changed. He walked into His God given identity and purpose. In Genesis 12:8 we see Abraham pitching his tent facing Bethel (which means the House of God) with the city of Ai – behind him. Ai means a trash heap – representative of the world – man operating outside of God. Again, we can see the significance of facing in the right direction.
I spent years of my life faithfully attending church, doing daily Bible reading, and praying. I gained a lot of knowledge but I have in more recent years learned until knowledge is applied and begins to change the beliefs of our heart, it remains just that – interesting information, a mental acknowledgment or an assent. Quite honestly, the more knowledge we accumulate, left unapplied, the heavier the load of guilt and condemnation we carry when it isn’t working! Even after years, our lives can remain on the road of self effort trying to “fix ourselves” as our hearts remain burdened down with the weight of guilt, shame and fear.
In the next few blog posts I will begin to share how I was able to walk away from the weight, bondage, guilt and shame of my many failures due to my poor choices – and begin the transition to a whole new life filled with sustained peace, joy and happiness. And it began with turning aside, and changing the direction of my focus. I became willing to lay down some of my strongly held opinions about God, Who He is and who I am and how we relate with one another. I gained a lifechanging understanding of the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus – and what actually happened during the three days He was in the grave.
Are you ready to turn aside? Is there a spark of curiosity that will cause you to pause and take a more in depth look? Stay tuned for “You Can’t Expect Success by Doing What is Wrong” – the next post in my blog journey.
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