This Side of Heaven

Once upon a time, I used to blog. Then life got in the way and it fell by the wayside. In fact, I’ve long since forgotten the password to my old login account! So when the time came to update and refresh my website, I knew it was also time to start blogging again.

My blog is called, This Side of Heaven. I think, on this side of heaven, many of us have this vague sense that things just aren’t as they should be. No matter how wonderful, calm, beautiful, peaceful and enjoyable our lives might be, we know life consists of both shadows and light.

Walt Whitman once said, “Keep your face always toward the sunshine – and shadows will fall behind you.”[1]  Good advice.

The writer of Hebrews articulated it this way. “And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us. We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith” (Heb. 12:1b-2a, NLT).

What does it mean, to “keep our eyes on Jesus”? How do we fix our gaze, as some translations put it, on something we can’t see? And what, really, does this mean in our practical everyday life?

In my book, A Day in the Life, I share many stories of brave parents who have learned to keep their eyes on Jesus, even in the midst of incredible challenges. Here’s one such story:

Rebecca, the mom of a young man with schizophrenia, acknowledges that as her son got older, his mental illness went from bad to worse. Though she has deep faith and prays persistently for her son, Rebecca testifies, “God still has not healed our son’s mental illness. In fact, things are worse today than they’ve ever been. But, God has changed me! I am much more dependent on Him, much more patient. I’m learning what it looks like to truly ‘let go and let God.’ Daily, I pray a prayer of relinquishment, releasing my son into God’s loving hands. When I try to control things or allow my mind to stew and worry about our circumstances, I become anxious and fearful, full of doubt and despair. That’s when God gently steps in and reminds me to keep my eyes on Him, not on our circumstances. God IS sovereign, even over our son’s mental illness and all the junk that comes with it. [2]

I’ve heard author and teacher Graham Cooke say, “Whatever we focus on, we give power to.” If we focus our gaze on our stormy circumstances, our immense fears, our embarrassing failures and our unpredictable problems they will grow larger and more powerful. But if we turn our eyes to Jesus, rehearsing His promises and contemplating His goodness, HE becomes larger. The bigger our God, the smaller our problems.

We would do well to keep our face toward the Son-shine and let the shadows of this world fall behind us. After all, His light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it (John 1:5). And herein lies our hope—on this side of heaven.


[1] https://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/walt_whitman_384665

[2] Bev Roozeboom, A Day in the Life, (the Write Place, Inc., 2018), 148.

Photo by Lisa Pellegrini on Unsplash

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