So much of the quality of our life depends on where we look. It doesn’t take much to draw our attention to the wrong things. I am 34,000 feet above Greenland as I write this. I am returning from a conference in the Swiss Alps. The meeting was tremendous, the weather gorgeous, and the scenery breathtaking. To top it all off, my name was called just before boarding the plane to say I was being upgraded to business class. (I hate it when that happens!). I was anxious to get home because my son Mike was in town with his girlfriend and I wanted to see them. As I settled into my seat I was looking forward to getting the nine hour flight over with and rejoining my family. But then the plane just sat there. Apparently the winds had shifted and we were assigned to a different runway. This caused a problem, however, because our plane was too heavy for the new runway. If you have been to Geneva you know lies next to some of Europe’s tallest mountains. Big planes like the 767 I was on need to gain altitude quickly if they are not going to make it on to the evening news. Two hours later we were finally away but now with absolutely no hope of making my connection to Greenville. I have nine hours to think about the congested immigration and security lines, dealing with stressed customer service agents as I rebook a flight for tomorrow, finding and booking a hotel, and worse, trying to shave with one of those cheap hotel razors because I won’t have my checked luggage for my overnight stay! Of course, I could also choose to consider the great conference I was leaving and those who told me their lives had been deeply impacted. I could think about God’s goodness to me in so many ways. Even while writing this I have to make a conscious choice about what I will focus on.
I was recently challenged by the account of the disciples in John 20:19-20. It was Easter evening. The disciples had gathered in an upper room with the door closed and presumably locked. They did this out of fear of the same people who had come in the night and abducted Jesus. There is no mention of any songs being sung. I suspect they did not want to draw attention to themselves. There had been some interesting fascinating news that day. Several of the women had reported the wild tale that Jesus was no longer in the tomb. Mary Magdalene even claimed to have spoken with Jesus. Peter and John had investigated and sure enough the tomb was empty. With so much to consider, the disciples were not sure what to think.
Suddenly Jesus was standing in their midst. His first act was to show them His hands and side. I have wondered why He did that. It would not have been so His disciples recognized Him because none of them except John would have seen His pierced hands before. It may have been to demonstrate that He was not merely a ghost, but the same Jesus who had been crucified, but now was alive. I am not an expert on resurrected bodies but it would seem that if they are improved from our earthly bodies and can even enter rooms with locked doors, then surely they could have every scar and blemish removed. But Jesus still had His. It would seem that the glory of a king is not found in his battle wounds but in his perfection. Yet I suspect we may all have the opportunity to gaze upon those nail-pierced hands one day as they represent God’s ultimate victory. Can you imagine the glorious Son of God continuing to wear the scars He obtained at the hands of His sinful, rebellious creatures?
When they looked upon Jesus “they were glad.” Interesting how dramatically our moods can change when we adjust where we are looking! When people keep their eyes riveted on Christ they cannot help but have joy. When they look at their problems and listen for hours to the dreary newscasts spewing out troubling information and even worse prognostications, a somber or discouraged spirit seems inevitable. This has also become a gauge for me. If looking on the Lord brings joy, then if I am not experiencing joy, I need to examine where I am looking.
So, even as my plane takes me closer to the crowded, noisy, airport, a missed connection and more than likely an extra night in an overpriced hotel room, I have to ask myself where I am focusing. Christ has a way of appearing in even the worst of our moments and changing everything!