I was 4, and we drove on my first trip to Florida from Pennsylvania for a week of vacation. Grandpa and my Dad were in the front seat, and my Mom, Grandma, and I were in the back seat. I vividly remember riding about 10 minutes one snowy morning, and I was already wondering if we were getting close.
Staying occupied in the back seat between Mom and Grandma was an easy thing to do. My Grandma and I played a game of ‘I see with my little eyes’ while my Mom read her book. Grandma would tell me to hide my eyes by putting my hands over them and not to look as she looked for things for me to guess what she was seeing. Dad and Grandpa were having a conversation about two men by the name of Roosevelt and Truman, which I had no interest in at all.
Every once in a while, we would stop and stretch our legs, have a little snack, and then back on the road again. We talked about the adventures we were going to have on our vacation. The main attraction in Florida for us was something called the Atlantic Ocean, which was a bunch of water that would come in and out and wave at us, I guess. Then there was a giant sandbox. I guess all of it was a sandbox, but I can’t see it yet, so I’m not quite sure about that.
The car journey to get there was actually a big part of the vacation because we love car rides. We saw things that I never saw before, different kinds of trees and flowers along the road. We stopped at a big field where there were rides for kids like me and stands that had food that you could buy. I rode a horse on a ride called the Merry-Go-Round, and it was so much fun going up and down on the horse as the whole ride was going around in a circle! I had never seen anything like that before. After that, we walked around for a while, and Grandpa bought me this yummy treat called Cotton Candy. It was pink, was lighter than air, and was wrapped around a paper cone. As I ripped off a piece and put it on my tongue, it just melted right in my mouth! I loved the surprise stop at that Carnival.
After a very long car ride, many stops, a night of sleeping in a hotel, we finally reached Florida. The weather had changed along the way. I didn’t need my winter coat anymore, my hat and scarf definitely had to go, and I was ready to put on my bathing suit as we moved closer to the mysterious ocean-thing and the big sandbox. The air smelled different, kind of fresher and salty. There were all kinds of birds flying around that were new to me, called Sea Gulls, and the trees were all tall with pointy leaves, and Grandma said they were palm trees. I liked all of the birds because it sounded to me like they were excited to see me as they were yelling. “Hi! Hi! Hi!”. At least that is what it sounded like to me.
We checked in at the hotel, and we all changed our clothes to our bathing suits because we were going to see the water. As we walked toward it, we were all carrying towels, and I was riding on my Dad’s shoulders. We were about to turn the corner, and he said for me to hide my eyes and not peek. All of a sudden, he told me to open my eyes and WOW! That’s all I could say. To the left was water. As far as I could see, the right was water, and it was such a beautiful blue color. It was coming in on the sand, splashing and making a roaring sound, and then would go back out. That’s what they meant by waving. The sand was everywhere! Bigger than the sandbox that I had even pictured in my mind. There were people all over the beach. Some were on chairs, some were on towels, some were walking, and others played in the water. I wanted to do it all at the same time!
Oh, how much fun we had on the beach, watching the water splash with the waves, and the warm sun felt so good that I could almost hear my freckles pop out on my face. What a wonderful new surprise all this was, and I fell in love with my new happy place called the beach! I’ll never, ever forget what I saw when I uncovered my eyes and could hardly take it all in because the Atlantic Ocean was so huge that you couldn’t see where it started or stopped. I learned one rule while we were on vacation that year, and that was don’t look directly at the sun because it could hurt your eyes! We all wore sunglasses the whole time. Grandpa lost his when he got hit by a wave when we were playing in the water, and we were laughing that there’s a fish swimming around someplace with Grandpa’s sunglasses on.
I recently read a book by Garth Stein called “The Art of Racing in the Rain.” The story is told by Enzo, a Golden Retriever whose master has a huge interest in race car driving. Enzo is brilliant and feels that he would be a perfect human, but he keeps reminding himself that he is a dog. He has a lot to say about relationships, love, dedication, and life in general. He attributes his intelligence to watching a lot of television, as his master left the National Geographic channel on the television for him during the day when he went to work. Since his master is greatly involved in race car driving, he talks a lot to Enzo about that subject, and they watch races on the television. In Enzo’s wisdom, he feels that race car driving isn’t just about going fast. It is more about learning techniques on the race track that can ultimately help a human navigate his way through life.
Enzo discovered that ‘the car goes where your eyes go.’ Aren’t our lives like that? If we allow our eyes to go toward the light and love in the world, then there will only be more light and love surrounding us. My devotional reading this morning was from the book ‘He Holds My Hand’ by Carol Kent. In the devotion, David’s words in ending Psalm 145:21 are ‘I will praise the Lord, and may everyone on earth bless his holy name forever and ever. The devotion went on by saying that those words sound good and upright, but sometimes that’s not the reality of where we are emotionally, but we have to push through that. ‘I know your thoughts of praise are sometimes crowded out by questions about why I have not removed all the suffering from your life. I want you to experience the unexpected job of proclaiming My greatness and goodness while you are in the middle of personal pain. You will then discover a new strength – stomping on the enemy and letting him know you’re not giving up, and that you will proclaim praises to My name until you have no more breath.”
John and I have been laughing recently about a silly thing. Whenever I am in the car’s drivers’ seat, I back out of the garage and back right down the driveway. While I’m backing down the driveway, I reach up and push the button to close the garage door; and without looking at whether the door came down, I trustingly drive away. When John drives, he backs out of the garage, stops, pushes the button, and the garage door doesn’t come down. He moves forward a bit, pushes the button; backward a bit pushes the button, and the door comes down. There was a little frustration in his voice at the fact that the garage door opener didn’t seem to be working right. I said to him a couple of weeks ago, ‘just don’t look at it, push the button, and trust.’ Sure as anything, he now backs out of the garage and immediately starts backing down the driveway while pushing the button. The door always comes down. We just look at each other with that special look and smile every time we leave the garage. Sometimes we just have to not look at it, but trust.
Have you ever tried to walk with a cup of coffee? It spills if you look at it. Don’t look at it! You can walk into a different room with no spillage. Just don’t look at it and trust.
Matthew 14 tells us that the disciples were out in the boat at night. ‘About four o’clock in the morning Jesus came to them, walking on water! They screamed in terror, for they thought he was a ghost. But Jesus immediately spoke to them, reassuring them, “Don’t be afraid!” he said. Then Peter called to him, “Sir, if it is really you, tell me to come over to you, walking on water. Then Jesus said, ‘Come.’ Peter went over the side of the boat and walked on water toward Jesus. But when he looked around at the high waves, he was terrified and began to sink. “Save me, Lord!” he shouted. Instantly, Jesus reached out his hand and rescued him.”
The story of Peter walking on water is exactly like what Enzo said. “The car goes where your eyes go.” In this case, Peter went where his eyes went. He started sinking when he took his eyes off of Jesus and started looking at the water. It’s what we tend to do when there is a problem in our life; we look at the problem, and it only grows bigger, and we feel like we’re beginning to sink.
Let’s not look at the illness, the checkbook balance, the job situation, the worries, fears, and situations we can’t control. When we look only at them, they become bigger. We are to look at Jesus, the provider, healer, protector, friend, the one who has all of the answers and is the One in control. John 20:29 “Do you believe because you see me? Happy are those who don’t see and yet believe.”
“The car goes where your eyes go.” Hebrews 12:2 “We must keep our eyes on Jesus, who leads us and makes our faith complete.”
I love the song “Turn your eyes upon Jesus.” Shut your eyes to turn off the distractions, and listen to this beautiful rendition by Alan Jackson.
Where are your eyes looking today?
Be Blessed to Be a Blessing to Others,