Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus

Yesterday I finally got a taste of worry.

It wasn't a bad kind of worry. It was just an honest, responsible kind of worry. "I need to be realistic. I need to make sure my affairs are in order."

Photos by Ashelie Hartle
I was even thinking positively. It's people with a good attitude who beat leukemia, and everyone tells me I've got as good an attitude as they've ever seen. I just need to maintain that attitude.

But a tinge of doubt came in. I was no longer sure I could "maintain that attitude."

I turned to good, religious thoughts. "God's in control. It's faith that matters, not good attitude. A good attitude is the product of faith."

But I was no longer sure I could maintain faith, either. After all, doubt--no matter how small the amount--had already crept in.

To be honest, I was in that state for hours. I wasn't directly thinking all the thoughts I just wrote. Instead, I was maintaining a good attitude. I was being cheerful. I was talking with the nurse and trying to be as encouraging to her as possible. I was enjoying the day. I got 15 pages done on Thrilled to Death. I was enjoying the time with my wife as she came in and out from laundry, cleaning the trunk of the car, and other various errands. I was keeping up with others by Facebook between chapters of the book.

My attitude was very good; very positive.

But by evening, at least compared to previous days, I was tired, and worse, I was unhappy.

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

A simple shift of attention.

No condemnation. No need for penance. My Father simply swooped me up in his arms, pulled me back to his bosom, and flooded me with grace.

Doubt? Doubt about what?

Doubt about walking with Jesus tomorrow? It's so good today. Why would that ever go away?

Doubt about dying? We're all going to physically die. Nothing to doubt there.

My job is to live in the presence of God. My job is to talk about what he's talking about. He's actually said something about my dying. He's said I'm not going to die, at least not from leukemia. So I say that as well.

But really, it doesn't matter.

Doubts that I can maintain a good attitude? I no longer care about a good attitude. My good attitude is, quite apparently, mostly useless and definitely fleeting. I want Christ's attitude. It's supernatural, powerful, and eternal.

I started to write a little excursus on hearing God a little above, but I thought it disrupted the flow and went better on my Rest of the Old, Old Story blog, so I put it there.

(Hmm. "Excursus" is another word blogger can't handle. It's correct, though.)

Finally, for the more practically minded, despite all I said above, I "set my affairs in order" as soon as I got a diagnosis. To this very moment, I believe it would have been irresponsible not to. That wasn't very hard because I'm part of the body of Christ--the visible body, not the wishful thinking body--and well taken care of.


  1. Praise God, when we start to walk away and feel our human emotions of doubt, stress of any kind, we can turn to our God, who is always there waiting for us to come to His open arms, where we can again sense His protection and love. Your spirit within you is amazing!! Your life just ripples and ripples God's Word onto others. May you always know the security of being held in those nail-scarred hands!

  2. Thank you!

    Someone asked me today if I had anything I'd say about facing something like this. I said, "Yes! Simple! Walk with Jesus every day ... now!"

    Life is different for everyone. We all have different weaknesses. We all have different things that stand in the way of walking with and obeying our Lord. We have to start now. It's the one who's faithful in little who will be given an opportunity to be faithful in much.

  3. "Excursus": an appendix or digression that contains further exposition of some point or topic. 1803
    Had to look it up. The first I've seen that in print. Have your blogs for breakfast every morning. You are continually in my prayers.

  4. I learned it from 7th-grade science. The end of every chapter had an "excursus" in which they put some application to the lesson we learned. That was a chemistry class, if I remember correctly.

  5. This is the simplest, down to earth and truly spiritual exegesis on overcoming doubt I have ever read. Thank you! Te amo mucho mi hermano.

  6. Despite already knowing everything I wrote in this post, the experience drives it home and helps makes it a little bit more a part of me, which is important. After all, "It's not what you know. It's what you can think of in time."

    This post is going to be a chapter in _Thrilled to Death_.