With Independence Day in a couple of days, I’m already getting ready. I don’t mean buying food or getting our place decked out in red, white, and blue. I mean, I’m getting my son, Gabriel, prepared for what’s to come since he has a fear of fireworks. For the last few days, faint booming noises from early fireworks shows have been getting him out of bed multiple times each night. I can barely hear them myself. But he could hear them. His heightened senses have given me an appreciation for things that I normally wouldn’t stop to notice. But it’s also something that can frustrate him when he needs to focus on something. How many of us have a hard time listening to something when there are competing sounds around us? It can take a good deal of concentration, something that Gabriel needs to learn how to do.
It seems that way in our spiritual lives too. How do we focus our attention on Christ when we allow “competing” objects to enter in our hearts? How do we love The Lord with all our heart and with all our soul and with all our mind and with all our strength (Mark 12:30) when our affections, thoughts, and efforts are placed elsewhere? It takes concentration and a resolve to rise above the noise of this world. A retreat to the mountains would be nice, but we have to eventually come down from the mountain. Perhaps, a quiet time in the early morning hours to spend time with our Lord, but even Jesus Himself was met with interruptions to His morning devotions. Maybe your life is such that a mountaintop retreat or early morning quiet times don’t seem to fit in. But, press on and find a way to spend time with The Lord that you may fix your eyes on Him. Susanna Wesley, mother of 19 children, was known to have put an apron over her head, a signal to her children that she was praying to The Lord. A speaker at our church’s women’s conference shared that when her children were young, she had to think outside the box when finding time to read the Bible. Sometimes, she would put them all in the bathtub to play, while she sat next to them reading. These women found ways. With Gabriel’s fears, I suppose it would be easier to just avoid fireworks altogether, but we wanted to encourage him to take steps, even baby steps. We wanted to find a way.
Last year, my sister, who lives near the city’s fireworks show, invited us over to watch from their front lawn. But as everyone started gathering outside with blankets and lawn chairs, Gabriel and I headed upstairs to one of the rooms, closed the door and all the curtains and waited. He paced back and forth nervously. Since the fireworks hadn’t started, I opened the door and noticed that from the window of another room, you can get a view of where the fireworks would be. I encouraged him to come watch from that bedroom, not really expecting that he would agree. To my amazement, he took tiny steps towards the room, and the next thing I know we were both sitting next to the window. He was nervous when the show started, but I kept hugging him and talking to him. “Which one is your favorite?” “What does that look like?” “How many colors do you see there?” The sounds were muffled enough that he was able to bear it, and because the loud booms were not so much of a distraction, he was able to appreciate the beautifully lit night sky.
And so it is with our faith. When those things that distract us from devotion to Christ are removed, we will not want to turn our gaze anywhere else. And what a beautiful sight to behold Him on the throne of our hearts!
One thing have I asked of the LORD,
that will I seek after:
that I may dwell in the house of the LORD
all the days of my life,
to gaze upon the beauty of the LORD
and to inquire in his temple.
(Photo credit 1: stintje)
(Photo credit 2: GlacierNPS)