By most people's standards, they were country hicks. Their names were Nan and Vail. They spent most of their adult life scraping by with very little, but as they neared retirement, he sold some family land in the Austin area and made a fortune. They retired to a nice, but not extravagant, house about 30 miles from Austin. Over the three plus years we lived near these precious people, Donna and I ate some good ol' country cookin' and picked up a couple of funny phrases that have stuck with us.
Vail drove everywhere, but that didn't mean he was a good a driver. He was easily distracted. As Nan put it, "He drives where he looks!" Then she repeated that phrase several times, laughing a little more each time she said it. Then she told a different story that illustrated her point with each repeat: "He drives where he looks!" By the time she was finished, all she had to do was say, "He drives where he looks!" and we were laughing so hard we thought we would pass out.
In today's world of distracted driving, we've pulled out this treasured phrase from nearly forty years ago. Sometimes Donna will use it to remind me to keep my eyes on the road. Sometimes we will say it, or at least think it, when we see people driving while messing with their phones. Of course the bitter truth is that we all drive where we look. That's why there are so many campaigns about distracted driving — texting or eating or talking on the phone or looking for stuff in the car while we drive.
For us as Jesus' followers, the truth is pretty much the same: We live where we look! That's why Jesus told us to love the Lord with all heart, soul, mind and strength (Mark 12:30). What we treasure, where we place our focus in each of these areas of our lives, will change us (Matthew 6:21). We pursue what we treasure. We live where we look!
Rather than a threat, however, this principle holds great promise for us as God's children in whom the Holy Spirit dwells (Romans 8:9-17). Notice what Paul told the Corinthians:
For the Lord is the Spirit, and wherever the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. So all of us who have had that veil removed can see and reflect the glory of the Lord. And the Lord — who is the Spirit — makes us more and more like him as we are changed into his glorious image (2 Corinthians 3:17-18 NLT).Paul promised the Corinthians, and at the same time promised you and me, that if Christ is our focus, if Jesus has our heart and we focus upon him, then the Holy Spirit gives us the freedom and power to become like Jesus a little more each day.
Paul says something similar to the believers in the churches of Galatian when he talks about the fruit of the Spirit. There are things that naturally happen in the physical world and in a similar way, there are "Spirit-natural" things that happen for those who have the Holy Spirit living inside them: we begin to take on the character and compassion of Jesus by displaying in our lives the Spirit's fruit:
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law (Galatians 5:22-23 NIV).These are the character qualities of Jesus! The Spirit is at work to make us more like Jesus.
To say that we live where we look is a spiritual reality — a promise given to us by Paul that is assured by the presence of the Spirit. However, we determine how much of this transformation by the Spirit happens in us. Where we focus and what we treasure owns our heart and sets the direction for our lives. We live where we look.
So... let's focus upon Jesus! Let's unleash the Spirit's power of transformation most of us who love Jesus desperately seek in our lives. But how do we best focus upon Jesus? Here's a couple of things I want to suggest, maybe you have some others you want to share in the comments section.
Read Jesus' story; then follow his example and put into practice his words.
I recently received an email from someone who had emailed me several months ago about wanting to know Jesus better. I suggested she begin a yearlong journey with Jesus. Each day, I encouraged her to read one chapter from a gospel — Matthew, Mark, Luke, or John. It takes about 3 months to read through all four of them one chapter a day. I encouraged her that before she read the chapter, to pray something like this:
Father in heaven, I want to know and honor Jesus more completely in my life. Please have the Holy Spirit help me hear Jesus' voice from today's reading. O Father, I want the Spirit to help me hear what Jesus wants me to know from what I read today. I want to feel what Jesus wants me to feel from the things I read today from His earthly ministry. I want the Spirit to help me put into practice what Jesus wants me to do. I ask this in Jesus' name. Amen.
Ask for help, guidance, and strength from Jesus' grace.
Every prayer we utter to the Father has the imprint of Jesus' love. He lives to intercede for us at the Father's side (Hebrews 7:25; Hebrews 4:14-16). However, this doesn't mean our conversation has to always take the shape of a formal prayer. Having an ongoing conversation where we talk with the Lord is not only healthy, but it is also transforming. Jesus called his disciples friends (John 15:12-15). He wants us to draw close to him and let him shape our lives. As the old hymn says:
And He walks with me
And He talks with me
And He tells me I am his own
And the joy we share as we tarry there
None other has ever known.
("In the Garden" by Charles A. Miles and made famous by Elvis Presley.)
Talk about Jesus' presence in your life.
Don't be afraid to talk about what Jesus has done and is doing in your life with others who are open to that conversation. We easily forget all the ways the Lord blesses our lives and talking about Jesus' footprints in our lives not only encourages other believers, but it also reminds us of Jesus' ongoing presence and work in our lives. It is important to remember what the Lord has done in us, with us, and for us.
My prayer for you, and I hope your prayer for me, is that Jesus can become real to you and be seen in you a little more each day. The Holy Spirit is at work to help this transformation happen. We just need to keep our focus on Jesus, because we live where we look!