Wednesday, May 08, 2013

The Challenge Continues, Day 122: I Kings 10-12; Psalm 101; Acts 16

Where our eyes focus
The Psalmist opines:
A corrupt heart will be far from me. I won't be familiar with evil./ I will destroy anyone who secretly tells lies about a neighbor. I can't stomach anyone who has proud eyes or an arrogant heart./ My eyes focus on those who are faithful in the land, to have them close to me. The person who walks without blame will work for me.
 Ascribed to David, this psalm gives me pause. It is a king's way of saying, "Not in my house...not in my town/land/etc." Great on paper, even if it smacks a little of hubris. David was no great shakes in avoiding mistakes, errors and in stumbling before God. He was good at having other people set in positions to assume blame or responsibility for his errors. We have to give him credit, though, in that he chose wisely when he made decisions about people who would be close to him. His eyes were focused on those who were upright and steadfast, who were faithful to God and to the king. He did not have time for those who were not...even when that meant the rejection of those closest to him, as Absalom was in his time.

It strikes me today how important a thing it is for us to be mindful of where our eyes focus. What draws our attention and holds it? Are we caught up in the flash and bang of sensation? Are we distracted by the petty annoyances generated by minor conflicts? Do we turn from seeing injustice, because to see it is to be responsible for challenging it and we don't feel powerful enough to accomplish it? Hard questions to ask ourselves. Harder still to effect change in our lives in order to train our eyes to focus on the "faithful in the land" and then invest in those people with the sort of abandon that God demonstrates when God expresses love for God's servants.

As we work our way through the Acts of the Apostles, I am becoming very aware of how much of the story is determined by where falls the focus of the apostles' eyes. We have just seen them work through the controversy of whether or not Gentiles will be admitted to the way without the requisite submission to the Law of Moses. They were inspired by the Spirit to focus on radical and transformative inclusion. Paul continues to surprise and astound as well: today he focuses in on connecting to the religious/believing women of the community as the conduit for the good news. He also sees the jailer as someone to support and care for, instead of deserting him.

When our eyes focus on what God intends, we are agents of grace. When we become distracted, as Rehoboam was in listening to his young friends instead of the older wisemen his father relied on, we stumble. When we get annoyed, as Paul did at the servant girl who kept proclaiming him; then our focus slips and conflict overtakes us.

Training our eyes to focus is a hallmark of our discipline to follow where God leads. It keeps our eyes on the path laid before us, surely; but it also enables us to see each other more clearly, to perceive where best to place our trust and to repent when the role of stumbling block or distraction becomes our own.

David's hubris is our lesson for the day...may our eyes focus on those who are faithful in the land. May we become those people to God's glory.

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