Last week, I decided to spend some time in the great outdoors with my faithful friend, Mack the dog. Because I’d not been feeling well, I attempted to keep our adventure low-key with a stroll along the pathway that meanders through the flowerbeds in our backyard, moving toward a glider that sits under the branches of a lovely shade tree. Unfortunately, Mack is not really a stroller, and he soon left my side for greener pastures in the form of a squirrel perched atop the fence behind me. Near path’s end and with my eyes fixed on a wildly barking Mack rather than my destination, I tripped and, in an instant, found myself falling forward, arms flailing. With eyes tightly shut, I executed a not-so-graceful face plant into the bark mulch, landing rather unceremoniously at the base of a rose bush. After breath returned to my body, I cautiously opened my eyes and found myself staring directly at the bush’s thorns.
I am happy to report that the limp has almost left me by now, and I can reflect upon my little mishap and discover in it two powerful life lessons:
1) It’s important to keep your eyes fixed on the Lord!
On the day of my fall, a lack of focus was at the root of my problem. (See what I did there?) I allowed Mack’s frenetic behavior to transfer focus away from my destination, and the consequence was a bit humiliating and somewhat painful. So, too, can be the consequences when we attempt to navigate through life without focusing on God and allowing Him to direct our steps. In Psalm 121, David declares:
“I lift up my eyes to the hills. From where does my help come? My help comes from the Lord, who made heaven and earth.”
and, in Psalm 25, David states,
“My eyes are ever on the Lord, for only he will release my feet from the snare.”
Fixing my eyes on God is imperative – only He can effectively guide me along the path on which I find myself, and only He can liberate me from the difficulties that threaten to ensnare me. Life is infinitely sweeter with Him by my side, not to mention a lot less treacherous!
2) Life is all about perspective.
After falling, I was first greeted by a cluster of thorns clinging tightly to that rose bush. Not the most uplifting sight, so I decided a change of scenery was in order. I allowed my eyes to trail slowly upwards and soon…a beautiful, blooming rose came into view. Even in my distress, that rose was inspiring and comforting to behold. Colorful and fragrant, glistening and dancing in the sunlight, that magnificent flower immediately brought to mind this Scriptural verse:
"Set your mind on the things above, not on the things that are on earth." ~Colossians 3:2
As I reclined in the flower bed, I had the power to set my mind on which image would command my focus: the thorns at the base of the rose bush or the beautiful flower seated above them. To direct my attention to the thorns certainly would have been easier given my predicament, but what a discouragement that would have been. Especially when a simple shift of my eyes would change my view to one filled with beauty; one that would bring me to a place of joy!
Let’s be honest here – life is not always a cake walk; it presents to each one of us a fair amount of difficulties. The most persistent difficulty in my life comes in the form of chronic pain. During those seasons when my pain level is especially intense, it can sometimes take more than a “simple shift of the eyes” to change my perspective, to see past the pain of the thorns to the beauty of the rose. Still, Paul instructs Christians to:
"Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus." ~1 Thessalonians 5:18
So, when the challenges of life threaten to overwhelm, I remind myself to trust in God’s love for me, then abide in His will by counting the many blessings for which I can give thanks. Even if I able to identify only one or two, my perspective shifts and I’m better able to experience the joy that God intends for me.
So....there you have it. Nothing terribly fancy, clever or wise. Just some lessons learned from "the fall."