Selective Abstraction

I was scanning through an old book of mine The Lies We Believe by Dr. Chris Thurman, when my thoughts settled in at one section. The chapter is titled Distortion Lies. It describes how we can distort those things around us in an effort to maintain our own reality. In common terms–we cannot see the forest for all the trees.

I think I was drawn to this section because of where I am right now in my work life. I mentioned in previous posts that there are issues with the contract at my place of employment. A co-worker recently retired which only served to muddy the waters even more. My reaction is to make these doubts and uncertainties my central focus. And that has caused some issues for me.

If I look at the picture above I first see the individual trees in the foreground. I get stuck on those and ask myself, are they dead? I do not see any leaves. Well, the tops of the trees are not really visible, but I make a guess of what would be there if I could see the rest of those trees. And in doing so, I miss a lot.

I miss the green of the forest behind those trees. The beautiful carpet of red and gold leaves. I miss the bright spot of sun in the middle of the picture as it points to further exploring the path into the forest. If those trees would just not be in the way!

The stress from my job situation created the same ability to miss things in my life. I would come home from work and the thoughts about the uncertainty spun inside my mind. When I woke up in the middle of the night, the thoughts were there. The resulting stress pushed me to the belief that something really negative was coming down the road. Those thoughts tended to color my life a foggy grey. Nothing was good about it.

And then God used my wife to let me see those trees that seemed so large and formidable were not my whole life. First she let me know that I was kind of ignoring her and our relationship. (Well, the “kind of” is my description. If I remember, her description was a little stronger.) She understood the stress from my work but also pointed out there are so many blessings in my life I am ignoring.

She also asked that question that I have heard many times during our 42 years of marriage. “So God is not in control anymore?” Ok she is a lot smarter than I am, I thought. But she is not looking at the trees I have smack dab in front of me.

She pointed out all of my problems. I could not get beyond the negative piece of my life, so all of it was bad. I was not in a good place.

I not only failed to see the good forest in my life; I also took my focus off the only source of hope. In Hebrews it says, “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.”

Sometimes there are tough issues to face in my life, in fact in everyone’s life. Those are very difficult times to handle. Of course, if I focus on them, life will be a struggle. But there are two realities: I can always count on Jesus to bring me comfort and strength. He gave up his life to pay for my sins. Surely I will experience that same love in my life according to his promise, “And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”

And the second truth? There is always more than that few gnarly, ugly trees in my life. There is always something beautiful beyond them there has to be because Jesus loves me. All I need is to turn my eyes.

Thank you God for giving me a wife so full of faith that she reminds me to turn my gaze to Jesus and all the blessings you have given

Come on back. Maybe there will be more trees, but I pray I will share with you about the forest.  I will wait you.

Old hymn but great reminder for me. Written a long time ago in 1922 by Helen Lemmel. I think she had a faith in Jesus much like my wife.

Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus

O soul, are you weary and troubled? No light in the darkness you see?
There’s light for a look at the Savior, And life more abundant and free.

Turn your eyes upon Jesus, Look full in His wonderful face,
And the things of earth will grow strangely dim, In the light of His glory and grace.

Through death into life everlasting He passed, and we follow Him there;
O’er us sin no more hath dominion—For more than conqu’rors we are!

His Word shall not fail you—He promised; Believe Him, and all will be well:
Then go to a world that is dying, His perfect salvation to tell!



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