“Fixing Our Eyes On Jesus” By Elizabeth Yeamans Simrell (Guest Blogger)

Fixing Our Eyes on Jesus

By Elizabeth Yeamans Simrell

Scripture Reading: Hebrews Chapter 12

Key Verses: Hebrews 12:1-2

“Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance, and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.”

When I have read this passage in the past and I have thought about running in a race, disciplining the body, pacing oneself, training beforehand to develop endurance, I thought that seemed like a reasonable metaphor for life. We have to be careful that we plan for the long haul and that we are careful in our lifestyles along the way, because how we do things in our youth will affect how we age and how long we live.

But, this time when I read these verses, they triggered some different reflection. I am a rehabilitation therapist (Speech-Language Pathologist) and have worked closely as part of a team of therapists, doctors, social workers, dietitians, etc. in caring for individuals with neurological impairment, usually stroke or brain injury. And one of the things that the Physical therapist, the Occupational therapist, and I would encourage our patients to do in their rehabilitation therapy is to visualize themselves doing the activity that they want to be able to do. For example, when a person could not move their fingers on one hand, we might suggest they practice watching their other, intact and functional hand doing the movement and then to “see” themselves doing it with their fingers on the impaired hand, visualizing it regularly, remembering doing the task, seeing themselves using those fingers in their mind’s eyes—often, after some significant effort, the patient would move the fingers. And the neuroscience research of recent years has proven that this does help in the rehabilitation process. Telling our patients to fix their eyes on the goal was effective.

There are a lot of business books and books on positive thinking that say similar things—the idea that if you can think it or believe it, you can make it happen. If I remember correctly, I read a book by Deepak Chopra that suggested that if you set a long-term goal and each day you do just one small task towards that goal, you eventually achieve the larger goal fairly easily which may have seemed overwhelming at first. That has rung true for me.

We know that habits are formed by repetitive action. This is true in our spiritual lives, too. So, I believe that in order to endure in our Christian faith, we need to do the things that support that. If we do small tasks daily towards becoming more like Christ, we develop our faith, and we grow spiritually. If we keep our eyes on Jesus as our model and we keep visualizing and remembering what the scriptures say about Him and how to be like Him, how to follow Him, and we take small steps towards that formation daily, and we see ourselves doing what we believe Jesus would do, we do become more and more like Him. And because He wants to be in relationship with us, He forms and informs us, disciplines us, develops our faith. It’s a good case for reading the Bible every day, for praying every day.

Fixing our eyes on Jesus—it’s the way to develop endurance for the long race before us. We know he has already won His race and we will be there with Him at the finish line.

Prayer: I know if I fix my eyes on you, Lord Jesus, you will help me endure the journey. I look forward to the day I meet you in your glory. Amen.

By Paul Simrell

The Reverend Paul W. Simrell has served for over thirty years in a variety of congregational and institutional settings. He is a recognized minister with standing in the Virginia region of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in the United States and Canada and is nationally endorsed by the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) for specialized ministry in both pastoral counseling and chaplaincy. Ordained in 1982, he has served congregations in Kentucky, Texas, Florida, and Virginia. He currently serves as the pastor of Elpis Christian Church, a small, historic congregation located just a few miles west of Richmond, Virginia. Elpis is the Greek word meaning “expectant hope.” He also serves on the associate clinical staff of the Virginia Institute of Pastoral Care, Richmond, Virginia, both as a pastoral counselor and a ministerial assessment specialist, specializing in executive, clergy and relationship coaching. He is a graduate of the University of Florida and Lexington Theological Seminary and has done advanced clinical training in chaplaincy and pastoral counseling at the University of Kentucky Medical Center in Lexington, Kentucky, Children’s Medical Center and Parkland Hospital in Dallas, Texas and the Virginia Institute of Pastoral Care in Richmond, Virginia. He is a Certified Pastoral Counselor, an ACPE Practitioner, and a member of the American Association of Christian Counselors. He is a Certified Facilitator of the Prepare-Enrich relationship assessment and skills-building program and served as a volunteer chaplain for over twenty years with the CJW Medical Center campuses in Richmond, Virginia. His avocational interests include playing the piano and drawing. He is very happily married to his wife Elizabeth Yeamans Simrell, a free-lance writer, who is also a Certified Facilitator for the Prepare-Enrich program. Good company in a journey makes the way seem shorter. — Izaak Walton

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