I have a friend (Brittany Salmon, in case you’re wondering) that I get to spend short snippets of time with every few months. We live in different states, but she comes to my city for seminary classes a few times a year. She’s busy during her intensives, but always makes time to grab a quick meal with me. I typically drop everything and rush to see her because I love her, respect her, and flat out crave her influence in my life.
On one such visit, over a hurried lunch of chicken shawarma, my friend spoke two simple words that began to reshape me. “Eyes up.”
If you have the pleasure of knowing Brittany, you can easily imagine the passionate tone she used to speak these two syllables. My memory of this conversation includes her banging her hand on the table to emphasize each word. Eyes (thump). Up (thump).
The context of our conversation that day addressed the potential temptations that accompany online writing. The trappings lurk in the shadows, waiting to devour all who seek the approval of an earthly audience. Our enemy pounces with the analytics to prove our great fear—indeed, only three people (besides our mom) read that last post.
When our fellow writers’ sentences go forth with the power to influence a wayward culture, and our own sentences struggle for proper subject-verb agreement, our enemy feeds us with a steady diet of lies that we all-too-easily swallow. “You’re not good enough.” “You’re ineffective.” “Your ministry is pointless.”
As Brittany and I discussed these and many more pitfalls of the writing life, she shattered the struggle with two words. Eyes up. A high view of God beats man’s high view of me any day.
It’s been months since this conversation, but God frequently brings her words to mind when my vision gets too comfortable looking outward for approval. He calls my gaze upward, and often uses my friend’s words, which echo his own word, to refocus my priorities.
Eyes. Up. “Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth” (Colossians 3:2). “We look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen” (2 Corinthians 4:18). We “look to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith” (Hebrews 12:2). “And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit” (2 Corinthians 3:18).
This last verse has what I like to call, the hokey-pokey effect, because that’s what it’s all about. Our beholding leads to our becoming more like Christ. The beholders are the becomers. The more we see the beauty of the risen Christ, the more we are conformed to his image. As our gaze lingers, our hearts are reshaped. The once formidable snares and traps become easily avoidable with our eyes up.
The good news of my salvation says that I don’t have to prove myself. God gives me gifts to build up his church. I use my gifts as an offering to him. I write for his pleasure, not for shares and likes. The gospel frees me from the pressure of having to be the best writer because I worship the best and he says I’m good because of Christ.
God has not made me the best writer or the most-read one, but by his grace, he’s making me a faithful one. It’s my joy to tell you about my Jesus. I love writing about him and for him and to his glory. I hope what my simple words lack in eloquence make up for in the magnification of Christ. He is my love.
My aim in ministry, whether it’s in writing or serving in other ways, is to encourage others to behold Christ. That’s why I love my friend’s words.
“Eyes up” can anchor us in any circumstance. Many days I wake up feeling overwhelmed thinking about everything that must get done before I crawl back into my bed. My eyes roam everywhere but up, pondering how I will accomplish it all. But, by God’s grace, he puts my wise friend’s words in my thoughts. Eyes up. I’m thankful for this reminder on the days when my eyes can barely focus on any one thing for too long because the next thing is greedy for my attention.
What about you? Are your days spent bouncing from one toddler tantrum to the next? Eyes up. Persevere, momma. Do the hard work. Make disciples in your home. Train these littles in the ways of the Lord. Is some other person living the life you want? Eyes up. Be thankful and be faithful where God has placed you. Trust him in and with your circumstances. Has your spouse not lived up to the expectations that exist in your mind? Eyes up. Obey God and love your spouse out of the love shown you by your father. Did you fail to measure up at work this week? Eyes up. See your God delighting in you from the throne.
Don’t give your enemy the satisfaction of allowing him to steal your attention away from your heavenly father. God loves you (1 John 3:1). He sent his beloved son to live and die for you (John 3:16). He raised him from the dead so that you might behold his glory and repent and believe (Romans 8:11). He’s adopted you into his family (Ephesians 1:5). He’s gifted you with purpose and equipped you to work for him (Ephesians 2:10). His presence is with you always (Matthew 28:20). And soon you will spend eternity reigning with him forever (2 Timothy 2:12)!
I hope this simple reminder changes you like it changed me. I hope your eyes are ever anxious to see the goodness of the Lord. Let your gaze luxuriously linger on the one who is worthy. Look towards heaven and behold your God, reigning on the throne and raining down love over you.
May the lyrics of this sweet hymn draw your gaze upward, for his glory outshines all! Eyes up.
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.