This Spring my husband and I had the wonderful privilege of going Europe for an amazing ministry opportunity. While we were there we decided to take advantage of this trip and take a few days for ourselves. One of our bucket list items was to visit Italy. So, we decided we could fit in a quick trip to Rome, Italy. While we were there we saw some incredible landmarks and truly enjoyed the history all around us. The food was really amazing too! One of our tour stops was Vatican City. We purchased tickets to go through the Vatican so we could see the Sistine Chapel. It was a guided tour, which was so beneficial in helping us understand exactly all that we were seeing, and to have a better understanding of the history behind it. It was quite remarkable. The art that you heard about in Art History Class literally was coming to life for us. Paintings and sculptures by famous artists like Raphael and Michelangelo were magnificent. So beautiful and inspiring! The Vatican was like a maze as we made our way through. It was very crowded and we had to keep up with our tour guide as she explained the art work and the amazing painters that made these masterpieces. As we made our way through many corridors to get to the Sistine Chapel it was overwhelming at different points because the crowds were so massive.
I remember we were weaving in and out of the crowds to find our guide and at times it was frustrating because we didn’t want to get separated. It was hard to focus on all of the beauty around us because we didn’t want to get left behind. In the midst of this chaos, there was one corridor that I just had an incredible Holy Spirit moment. This one hallway was full of amazing artwork that were made into tapestries. There was one in particular that is called the Resurrection. It shows Jesus coming out of the tomb with the soldiers looking away. As we came upon this piece our guide told us, “Look into the eyes of Jesus and don’t look away as you walk by. Jesus’ eyes were created in such a way that the illusion of his eyes follow you as you walk by.” Now, I’ve heard the phrase often, “keep your eyes on Jesus” as I grew up in the church. It’s a phrase that I have used myself countless times in encouraging others or counseling those who are struggling in different areas in life. But in this moment as this tour guide made that remark, I felt the Holy Spirit speak to me in such a powerful way. As I focused my eyes on Jesus, His eyes just followed right along with me, I wasn’t concerned about the crowds around me in that moment – I just needed to keep my eyes on His. I was mesmerized!
How many times do I miss the mark because my eyes, my focus, is on other things? I worry, I fret because my eyes are looking at the situations or people around me. Sometimes my short-comings become bigger and bigger in my eyes because I am not fixed on the perfecter of my faith. Those other “things” trip me up in my race of life. Things that cloud my vision and hinder me from my purpose and destiny. Sadly, there have been times I have allowed people’s thoughts, opinions, and sometimes careless words hold me back because I was intimated or felt some type of judgement. But, it was there in that hallway as I stared at Jesus’ eyes that I knew I didn’t have to worry about any of that! Instead, I could be secure knowing my Jesus has been there all this time, His eyes see as He walks along with me through every area, every situation that I find myself in. He has never looked away! He is the Great Shepherd who truly cares about my every need, every thought and every desire. If He can endure the cross with all of its shame and suffering and do it with joy, then surely, I can keep my eyes focused on Him and let go of all of those cares. My friends, we can persevere!
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. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. (Hebrews 12:1-2, NIV)
Be encouraged today, my friend, that our God looks on you lovingly. He cares about your deepest hurt, your frustrations and your joys. Every hilltop experience to the lowest valley point of your life, He is there! He has never forgotten about you. His eyes are set on you! Keep your eyes set on Him!
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Elisha Cruz is a wife, mother, speaker, worship leader and a lover of all things coffee. Elisha serves as a staff pastor along side of her husband who leads Freedom Life Church, Milton, PA. Her greatest passion is to encourage and teach women to become all that God has called them to be, as daughters of the King. Elisha serves on the Penn-Del District Women of Purpose Leadership Team.