Focus on Not Dying: SJG 2018 Summer Bible Series

To celebrate my 40th year of life, Jason whisked me away to one of our favorite cities, Asheville.
In previous trips we had toured the Biltmore and we had explored downtown; this trip was for adventure.
The winding Blue Ridge Parkway literally took us straight up Mount Pisgah for over an hour.
Each turn took us higher into the clouds with breathtaking views all around us.
The temperature dropped almost 30 degrees from the start of our drive to the base of the trail we would hike.
I was pumped.

How hard could it be anyway!?
Just look at our sweet naive little faces!
As soon as I was able to loosen the boa constrictor from around my chest, I would soon eat those words.
Here was my view for about 75% of the hike:

My shoe.
My internal dialogue mainly consisted of was me begging, “Jesus, just one more step.”
Then I’d hear Him whisper, “Jill, look up.”
I didn’t want to look up.
I wanted to focus on what was directly in front of me.
I wanted to focus on that next step.
I wanted to focus on NOT DYING.

But, I looked up.
And when I did, I saw this:

Sweet Jesus.
This mountain HAS to end eventually, right?
In a new burst of determination, my eyes went back to the ground and I got to the top of this picture.
But guess what?
It wasn’t the end.
There was a flat spot for us to catch our breath, but then it was “onward ho!”
Once we reached the top of this trail, had it been a clear day, we would have had sweeping views at 6,000 ft.
Even though God didn’t part the fog to show us His majestic creation, He did show my heart something.
Something that was confirmed in Jason’s amazing sermon he preached last week.

My focus was on where I was.
God’s focus wanted me to be on where I was going.
Now, there’s nothing wrong with being in the moment.
It has definite value.
Being aware of your surroundings is just good common sense…
But by being so in the moment, I was missing on all that was around me.
I was so self-absorbed in making that next step.
What has all of your attention right now?
If you’re anything like me, a lot of the times EVERY thing else gets my attention.
Maybe you’re nursing an old hurt that takes all the space in your heart and mental energy.
Maybe you’re focused on hating someone who has wronged you.
Maybe you have set every thought you have to keep up appearances so no one sees the “real you.”
Maybe you just don’t care anymore because nothing ever seems to work out for you, so why bother.
Maybe God wants you to take your eyes off of you for just a split second so He can show you how much He loves you.
Maybe He has an amazing turn of events for you but the blinders you are wearing have become a permanent fixture.
In Matthew when Jesus called Peter to walk out on the water, Peter was walking like a champ.
Because his eyes were fixed solely on Jesus.
The second Peter took his eyes off of Jesus, his focus shifted and his faith faltered.
The second Peter’s mind shifted he lost sight of the promise keeper and became fully aware of his powerlessness.
I eventually got to the top of that hill.
And back down again.
And each step since then I’m setting my focus on the Way Maker, no matter how hard.
In the end, I know it will be worth it.
He always is.

Get Moving Monday:
Matthew 14:22-33

Philippians 3:15-21
John 3:30-36
In order to get the full meaning of these scriptures, back up and read the whole chapter.  Read the verse in context.
Ask yourself these questions:
Who is the writer talking to?
What was the culture like when this was written?
Why is it important that this scripture is here at this particular point?
How can I apply this scripture to my life today?
Do my habits, thoughts, actions, mirror the people this scripture is intended for?

I’m a book-shelving, former tap dancer, wanna be writer, singer,
and banjo player, mother of 4, wife of 1, follower of Christ,
walking in the shadow of the Proverbs 31 woman
and redeemed by the grace and love of an Almighty God…
just living the dream.

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