Listen to this devotional:
Listen while you read: "Who Is He In Yonder Stall"1 (Lyrics)
I'm a quilter — some would say an obsessive one. I make dozens of charity quilts each year. If I've learned anything in all that sewing, it's that the needle follows the eye.
When I'm sewing two pieces of a quilt together, accurate quarter-inch seams insure a well-made quilt. I use a sewing machine attachment called a quarter-inch foot, which has an extension that helps me to guide both pieces of fabric under the needle at the right width. I must focus my eye on the edge of the fabric and the extension, not the needle, or my quarter-inch seam will soon be three-eighths or even half an inch — and that makes matching seams between blocks quite a challenge.
After the quilt top is ready, I add batting and a back, and finish it with decorative stitches using an attachment called a walking foot. Sometimes, I just sew a row of stitches from one corner of a block to the other, a distance of eight inches. I can either draw a line to follow or — my favourite method — aim for the opposite corner and start sewing (if you're a quilter, that may horrify you, but it works for me). However, the stitching will be straight only if I intently watch — focus on — the opposite point. If I doubt and peek at the needle or get distracted by something that catches my eye, I'll stitch a wiggly line.
Despite knowing the importance of using the attachments as they're intended and keeping my eye on my goal, my stitching is not always straight. I get distracted, don't pay attention, or am in too much of a hurry. I lose my focus.
Like my quilting, I can look back at my life and see where I didn't keep my eye on my heavenly goal or on my Guide, Jesus. I won't bore you with the details, but you can believe that I have had many wiggly lines and wavy seams in my history, times when I strayed from His will.
Psalm 121:1-2 – I lift up my eyes to the mountains — where does my help come from? My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth. (NIV 2011)
Mountains refresh me physically and emotionally. When we first moved to a mountain home, I found Psalm 121:1-2 and inscribed these verses on a board that I posted at our gate. The rest of the psalm assures me that God will not let my foot slip, nor will He slumber while He watches over me; He will be at my right hand and keep me from harm. He will watch over me, if I lift up my eyes to focus intently on Him.
Hebrews 12:1-2a – 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, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. (NIV 2011, italics mine)
Like my eyes when I'm sewing, our focus on Jesus can so easily be distracted: hobbies, family, electronics, work. These aren't bad; in fact, some of them are necessary for daily sustenance. But if we keep our eyes fixated on any of these to excess, then our eyes are not focused on Christ. I want to do my best to fix my attention on what pleases Him, not the world. Want to join me?
Prayer: Father, help us to focus on You, not on the world and its seeming pleasures. Help us to look daily to You for guidance so that we will hear, "Well done, thou good and faithful servant," as we join You in heaven. Amen.