Eyes on Jesus

 
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It was a Sunday service in a small Panama town. I was only 14 years old. Everything about this particular morning was normal. The air was humid, sticky, and hot. The sun was just breaking through the early day’s fog. I was out of breath after running a message from church to our sleeping quarters and back again. As I walked into morning service, my eyes were eager to see God move and my heart was expectant for something big to happen. But little did I know that God was about to change everything.

All my life, I had heard and believed the cost of serving God would be great. Books proclaimed what Christian missionaries and martyrs had gone through. The Scriptures taught what Jesus went through on the cross. And in that place, God called me. God reminded me that to choose Him meant to choose Him over my future career, home, children, and even wife. I remember weeping at the thought of losing everyone and everything dear to me. But I also remember weeping knowing that attaining Christ and hearing Him say, “Well done, my good and faithful servant” would be worth it.

God has called me to be a missionary. It is strange for me to write that… For the last eight years I have been fighting God to fuse my will with His own. To this day, it is a struggle to let go of myself and take hold of His plans. But I am now just walking the very first baby steps of letting go and trusting Him.

A few weeks ago, at a gathering of pastors, God showed me where my eyes had deterred to. I want to be rich, I want to be comfortable, I want to be admired by people, and I want to control my life. Sinfully my eyes once again looked around and I chose my own way instead of the way God has set before me. I found there was a war inside of me between my flesh and Holy Spirit. In the Spirit, I desired to only serve and please God. But in the flesh I wanted (in the simplest words) to be seen and praised by people.

But during that gathering, while we were all praying, I broke down as God reminded me again of the missionary’s life. It was so hard to let go of my desires, but I know there is nothing better than walking in God’s plans. I am such a wretch and sinner that I would try to steal God’s glory. Yet, for some reason, God still chose me to serve Him. This is something I still don’t fully understand.

“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.” Hebrews 12:1-2

I’m learning the only way to walk in God’s plan is with my eyes locked on Jesus. When I look around, I get distracted and discouraged. When I look at myself, I become proud and self-centered. But when I look at Christ, I am in awe and everything falls into place. There is no room for fear or pride when I behold Jesus, my Lord and Savior. Too often I forget to fix my eyes on Jesus. Too often I forget and forego my calling.

This race I am to run is for Christ. When my eyes are fixed on Him, I think of how He served and suffered. I want so badly to be like Christ in His living and dying. I want to live out my calling to preach the Gospel to the unreached and serve God wholeheartedly. When I see Christ, He becomes worth the pain of serving and suffering. But everything gets muddled when I forget to look at Jesus. To walk out God’s plan for me, I have to keep my eyes fixed on Jesus.

Praise the Lord I started last year to actually pursue God’s plan for me. It is now my second semester in seminary and I love it so much. As I walk with Him in His plans and His dreams and His calling, I’ve discovered the great joy of seeing and discovering Him in the midst of struggle.

Brothers and sisters, as you walk out your callings, do not forget to behold Jesus. Do not forget His sacrifice and death. Do not forget His glory. Do not forget His encounters. And most of all, do not forget He is worth it.

 
 

Ethan O’Neall (@ethan_oneall) is an elementary pastor at Torrance Good Shepherd Church. He graduated from Biola University with a B.A. in Psychology and is currently pursuing a M. Div. at Talbot School of Theology. He lives in Torrance, CA where he grew up.

 
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