New Habits are Hard to Form (Journey 2-28-12)

New Habits are Hard to Form (Journey 2-28-12)

Hebrews 12:1-3 have long been favorite verses of mine.

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.

In the past weeks I’ve been meditating on what it means to fix my eyes on Jesus. What does it mean to be so centered on him that whether my day is slow and steady or fast and full, I move in unhurried awareness of his presence? What does it look like to live in steady rhythm with the movement of His Spirit? Isn’t it amazing that no matter how busy Jesus was He was never rushed. Isn’t it beyond comprehension that in the midst of crowds he consistently turned to give his full attention to a single individual. “Who touched me?” Why did he even ask? He knew who touched him and he also knew she was healed. He had important things to do, a little girl was dying. (Luke 8:40-53) But he stopped. He asked not because he needed to know, but because she needed to be known. She needed the look of love in his eyes.  She needed the full attention of his gaze of love.  She needed the gift of being drawn into relationship.

It’s a counter-cultural way to live. Counter to every earthly culture I think. We’re born with a sin nature that is moving away from God and from each other. We were created for relationships. Relationship with the Trinity.  Relationship with each other. And these relationships remain the broken battleground of our lives.

But in Christ we’ve been given a key. We can fix our eyes on Jesus, just as Jesus fixed his eyes on his Father. Our focus determines so much.

If we’re looking at him we move differently. We slow down. We fall into step beside him as he moves in his unhurried manner. We become aware. It doesn’t mean our days are any less full, but we start to see them in a new light. Suddenly pleasing the crowds doesn’t seem so important. As we look into his eyes we hear him whisper, “Trust me, we have time for this precious soul. She needs the gift of undivided focus, unhurried attention. The crisis will wait. I have a plan for that too. Just stick with me.”

When I fix my eyes on Jesus I start becoming more attuned to his pace, to his voice, his movement. So I’m looking for ways to become more aware of Him moment by moment.

I started with a gratitude journal: a record of the ways I witness his presence in each day. But I’ve been inconsistent. I added the practice of breath prayer: a simple repeated prayer, a breathing in and out that refocuses my gaze. But it too is hard to maintain. I’ve begun praying the hours (using this great website) – a few minutes of each hour given over to the one who set me in time and space, but I’ve yet to hit every mark in a given day. New habits are hard to form.

And the spiritual disciplines are just that, habits. They are simply ways to assist me toward awareness; tools to help me fix my eyes on Christ.

I want to move like him. I want to walk his unhurried rhythm in the middle of busy days. I want to keep pace with the Spirit rather than the world. I want to look into the eyes of others and offer them my full attention. I want to offer relationship that models the Trinity. I want the miraculous, super-natural life of Christ to flow through me.

Extraordinary desires like this can’t be met through fleshly strength. Only God can make this a reality. But I have a starting place. I fix my eyes on Jesus.

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