Faith, life, Uncategorized
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A Fine Focus {Soul Calibration}

We’ve seen the stunning photos taken through the lens of the Hubble telescope.

Vast, stark and beautiful images of quarks and stars and fragments of galaxies. They seem glittered in fairy dust. They are intimidating and inviting all at once. These gaseous, rainbowed clouds floated thousands of light years away and until just a few decades ago,remained cloaked in deep space, invisible to those of us on earth.

hubble photo of Cigar Galaxy

The Hubble telescope required the confluence of over a thousand brilliant-minded engineers, millions of dollars and a multi-billion dollar space program in order to capture those breathtaking images (and the data that scientists need to learn about space). But even with all those high-functioning brain cells and billions of dollars, the Hubble telescope initially failed.

The images were transmitted and developed and nothing was in focus. Sure, there were smears of blue and purple edged in black, but no clear image of a planet where scientists knew a planet existed.

Incredible engineering by mathematical geniuses bobbed along in space no more effective than a gaggle of cola cans strung on string. It’s complex system of mirrors, designed to pull in light and therefore create images, failed to provide what had been promised.

After pouring over the configurations, the problem was discovered.

The main mirror, a precisely designed, painstakingly formed nine-foot circle, was 1/50th of a hair-width off in shape.

Nothing valuable would ever come from this priceless space telescope as long as it couldn’t focus.

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It takes so little to throw off our focus.

We are, according to the Bible, born into a condition that blurs our soul vision, blinds us to the truth of why we are here in the first place. “Just as sin came into the world by one man….”{Romans 5:12}

The great questions of humanity arise from our inability to focus: Why am I here? Where am I going? What is the purpose in life, in my life?

As hard as we work to fine-tune ourselves, pursue morality or service to humankind, religious piety, or –the exact opposite– as much as we run away, defy accountability to others or a divine creator, indulge our senses and desires, we come to a place where we look at the images we’ve taken and nothing comes into focus. Nothing matters.

The calibration of our souls, the fine-focus of our spiritual eyes, cannot happen because our lens is damaged by sin. God didn’t create us with a sin defect that threw off the course of all creation, but rather gave us the choice of lenses.

1 Corinthians 13:12-13
Now we see but a poor reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face.
Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.
And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.

We can look through our glass dimly, as the Apostle Paul spoke of in 1 Corinthians 13 and even the clearest of choices like faith, hope, and love are distorted, or we can, like David pleaded so many hundreds of years ago, cry: search my heart and see if there’s any way of offense in me.

Psalm 139:23-24
Search me, O God, and know my heart;
test me and know my anxious thoughts.
See if there is any offensive way in me,
and lead me in the way everlasting.

There’s a tiny verse in Romans 9 that has been teasing out the activities and motives of my heart. Although I’ve been given the clear view of myself in relation to God through his gift of saving faith, my focus gets off now and then. Rather, my focus is off a lot of the time. I seem to go along with the commitments and demands of each day, I become distracted by relationships that have gone wrong, my expectations of myself and of others skews my vision, I am discontent and tired by experiencing the same failures in finances, time-management, in raising my kids, blah, blah, blah.

But this little strand of truth fine-focuses my heart:

Romans 9:16

So then it does not depend on the man who wills or the man who runs,

but on God who has mercy.

It is not up to me when I’m willfully pursuing godliness or my own way; it is not up to me when I’m running toward him, away from him, or even when I’m expending all my energy running in the same place and the same circle.

It is all and only the mercy of God.

My work consists of standing still and asking…search my heart and see if there is any way of offense in me. And then waiting and allowing the engineer of my existence to clean the debris and shave off the layers, no matter how small I think they might be, that keep me from seeing, from living, in focus. It’s a simple matter of letting him be God. And then of letting the light shine in and through that perfected lens.

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What throws off your focus? What has derailed you and kept you from being in right relationship with God?

Reading and praying Psalm 139 is a challenge for those who are truly tired of doing the same thing over and again, only to find the results disappointing and less than dazzling.

Often, the answer to the question “what in me offends your holiness?” scrapes so closely to the marrow of our existence that we avoid the query altogether. Often it’s a long-held hurt, wrapped in layers of self-defense and justification. Sometimes it’s simple wrong-thinking born early in our lives and we can’t imagine living a life in a different paradigm. Other times it’s our addiction to approval, to certain relationships, to striving and control — all these things bump the instruments of our God-given design for holiness and we cannot see clearly.

“What in me offends your holiness, God? Search it out and test me and remove it. Fix me. Give me faith to trust you with myself. Help me to remember than you made me, fearfully and wonderfully and for a purpose.”

linking up with Shanda and Jen

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3 Comments

  1. It takes guts to ask for God to reveal in us what separates us from Him. The revelation is always ugly… In the end it is exactly His mercy that saves us from a life of separation from our Father. Well said.

  2. Danelle says

    How did you know that I needed to read about “focus” so very, very much?
    Thank you for this post. You are right. All it takes is the 1/50th of the hair width.
    Leaving your blogging corner praying for focus on Him as I walk through my day today. And begging the question too of “What in me offends your holiness?”

  3. Your photos remind me of how immensely HUGE our God is. So much can throw me off focus, but wow … remembering the enormity of God draws me to my knees.

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