A Strange Dimness
Filed under: Following Jesus
Several people have asked me how I was able to get books on the road…since I have no library I always laugh and tell them that I have NO time for reading anyway! However…I have refocused my priorities a bit and have been reading again. And OH! How I missed it. Reading feeds my soul. I so LOVED one of the books, that I just knew had to share it with you. I found it on my dear friend Angela’s bookshelf when we stopped at her house in Tennessee and she was gracious enough to let me take it with me to finish.
The book is called “Faithful Women and Their Extraordinary God” by Noel Piper (John Piper’s wife). She tells the stories of five women who have been used by God to do mighty things…some were missionaries, some were mothers, all were amazing. There was one paragraph in the book that really stuck out to me. It was the chapter on Lilias Trotter, an artist and missionary to the Muslims in Algeria.
I’ll give you the paragraph before for some context…
She was free now to throw herself wholeheartedly into her ministry in London. She remained Ruskin’s friend to the end of his life, though he never understood her decision. and she still loved art–how could she not when her soul was so tenderly vulnerable to beauty. But she enjoyed her art now as a gift, not a passion. Much later, she realized even more strongly the importance of focusing on Jesus, rather than on all the good things he gives us.
Never has it been so easy to live in half a dozen good harmless worlds at once…art, music, social science, games, motoring, the following of some profession, and so on. And between them we run the risk of drifting about, the good hiding the best. It is easy to find out whether our lives are focused, and if so, where the focus lies. Where do our thoughts settle when consciousness comes back in the morning? Where do they swing back when the pressure if off during the day? Dare to have it out with God…and ask Him to show you whether or not all is focused on Christ and His glory…
How do we bring things to a focus in the world of optics? Not by looking at the things to be dropped but by looking at the one point that is to be brought out. Turn your soul’s vision to Jesus, and look and look at Him, and a strange dimness will come over all that is apart from Him.
…excerpt from “A Passion for the Impossible” (Rockness)
…a strange dimness will come over all that is apart from Him. Wow. I need to repeat that again and again. How often do we search and endlessly for something to change our life? For something that we can ADD to our life to make it better…more fulfilling…more exciting…when all we really needed to do was to change our FOCUS? We don’t need to add anything…or even deliberately take things “away” from ourselves (unless they are causing sin in your life). We just need to “look and look”at Jesus…His words, His ways…and a “strange dimness” will come over all that is apart from him.
This has happened often in my life…and I know that many of you can relate. When I start to read my Bible more, I crave more and more of God’s word. Which, in turn, makes a strange dimness come over my desire to watch TV. When I spend more time with Bella and Matt…a strange dimness comes over surfing the web aimlessly for hours. Jesus is a “light” that washes out things that aren’t pleasing to Him.
Where is your focus right now? Are you “living in a half a dozen good harmless worlds at once”? As wives and mothers, we are prone to taking on too many extracurriculars…being involved with too many things outside the home…spending too much time on hobbies…all of these things are “good harmless” things, but when they draw your focus away from Christ and from your ministry to your family. You must reassess…and return to your first love. And if you’re like me, you need to continue to do it on a regular basis.
I’m not sure, but I wonder if Lilias Trotter was thinking of this beautiful hymn when she wrote the words above…my mom used to sing it to me when I was having a particularly bad day, and these words still comfort me in times of struggle:
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.