September 16, 2009

Where Is Your Focus?

2009 1526 page31 capHERE’S JESUS DYING ON THE CROSS, MAMA?” I’VE GROWN ACCUSTOMEDto this frequent question from my 4-year-old daughter, usually asked while she sifts through a scattered pile of books on the floor. Both my children have inherited my own love for books, even though they themselves can’t read yet. Sarah loves to sit in front of our well-stocked bookshelf and take the books out to look at their pictures.
On this particular day, Sarah was sitting on the floor and becoming increasingly agitated as she briefly looked through and discarded each book with a heavy 4-year-old sigh.
“What’s wrong, honey?” I questioned.
“Where’s Jesus dying on the cross, Mama?” she asked.
“These books don’t have Jesus dying on the cross, honey. Let’s go find some that do, OK?”
2009 1526 page31Relieved, she waited for me to find just the right one, a children’s Bible story book that has pictures focusing on the events just before, during, and just after Jesus’ crucifixion and resurrection.
Sarah’s face became serious as she quietly and reverently gazed at the vivid pictures, touching each one with childlike awe. Finally, she looked up at me.
“I love Jesus!” Her face beamed. And in that short span of time, I saw Jesus, too.
There’s something about the written word that has always inspired me. When I’m not caught up with the business of life, I will often devour an entire book in one day. But do I, like Sarah, long to see Jesus in all I read? Sure, the books I choose to read are all “good” books, such as Christian biographies or other uplifting books. But watching Sarah’s desperate search to see Jesus on the cross makes me stop and ask myself, Are good books enough? What about my daily Christian walk? Can I say with Paul, “For I determined not to know anything among you except Jesus Christ and Him crucified” (1 Cor. 2:2)?* My paraphrase would say: “Is everything I cling to in my life—the books I read, the entertainment I choose, the words I speak, even the foods I eat and how I treat my body—do all these things reflect Jesus Christ’s sacrifice for me?”
When it comes to the bare bones of what Christianity should look like, it’s about a love affair between Jesus and me. It’s about the Lover of my soul doing everything He possibly can to woo me to Him and win my affection. At Sarah’s tender age, she is indeed being drawn to Jesus and responding to His wonderful love for her. Am I? Do people around me know I am in love with my Savior?
A mental list of my encounters this past month parades through my mind: the conversation I had with my telephone company, forcefully demanding that it fix a longtime billing error; the judgmental tone I used while talking about our teenage neighbor who is apparently making so many wrong choices; the critical words I used to insist that my children clean up their rooms; the ungrateful comments I showered on my husband because the kitchen wasn’t cleaned the “right” way.
How thankful I am that my Savior’s grace is indeed sufficient for my failings and weaknesses, as He gently leads me back to His heart.
Soon enough Sarah will learn to read, and a whole new and wonderful world will open up to her. In the meantime, my focus has been forever changed by her question:
“Where is Jesus dying on the cross?” 
*Scripture taken from the New King James Version. Copyright ” 1979, 1980, 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
Joanne Burns is a freelance writer living in Alberta, Canada. She enjoys letting her two daughters Rachel and Sarah, and her husband, Rob, be God’s tools of inspiration to her.