Now, therefore, fear the Lord and serve him in sincerity and truth; and put away the gods which your fathers served beyond the River and in Egypt, and serve the Lord. And if it is disagreeable in your sight to serve the Lord, choose for yourselves today whom you will serve: whether the gods which your fathers served which were beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites in whose land your are living; but as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord. (Joshua 24:14-16)

I once lived in an area where, if you looked up, you were surrounded with beauty, but, if you looked down, you were equally surrounded with filth. A person was constantly challenged to make a choice—look up or look down.

If the person looked up, he saw endless green trees, blue skies that stretched forever, mountains that took his breath away, and sunrises and sunsets that were too magnificent to describe. If the person looked down, he saw rotten mud, waste beyond description, and the breeding ground of diseases he did not know.

Hanging between were people who had the choice of focusing life on the “up” or the "down,” but often had been taught to see only the “down.” It is difficult to escape the smells, the waste, or the diseases and look up. The “down” powerfully captures a person’s focus. It seems it is always easier for humans to look down instead of up.

Last week was a challenging week for many. It was so easy to complain! The ice and the weather robbed so many of convenience and of too many things we all take for granted—until those things are removed. A person had so many reasons to look down and see destruction, misery, inconvenience, and tragedy. However, the person could also look up and recognize countable blessings. What the person saw often had more to do with the person than the circumstances. It had to do with focus.

Physical life is not perfect and never will be. Certainly, the “down” is real, but so is the “up.” The physical reality of both is constant. Daily, one is challenged to look down and to look up. Daily, every person is reminded that he or she is suspended between a focus that looks down and a focus that looks up. Daily, a choice must be made.

What forms your physical reality? Do you constantly look down as you live in grief, fear, and misery? Do you force yourself to look up and count blessings? Do you only “see” what seems natural for the moment? Do you spend life feeling sorry for yourself?

Your focus is your choice! “Down” always will be there no matter how much you focus on it. “Up” always will be there no matter how much you ignore it. What you see is not dependent on your circumstances, but on your choice to look up or down. You can focus your gaze down and live in misery, or you can use life to teach people to look up and see blessings. One is perpetual misery, the other perpetual hope. It is not the challenge to ignore the real, but to see all that is real, and to see it in perspective!

David Chadwell

West-Ark Church of Christ, Fort Smith, AR
Bulletin Article, 5 February 2009

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