Do you remember learning this in driving school? You were taught that you should always keep your eyes fixed on where you want to go – whether it’s straight ahead or where you plan on turning. And if you’re driving and become too fixed on the car next to you or something off the road, that’s exactly where you’re going to go. If we teach and follow this rule so adamantly for driving, why not think about it in terms of our everyday lives?
Think about it – how often have you fixed your focus on something that you probably shouldn’t be focused on? You took your eyes off the prize, and what happened? Well, you probably didn’t get the prize. I don’t know about you, but there are a lot of things I want to accomplish in my life. I have some pretty big dreams, and I know that being intentional with my decisions and making sure that I keep my focus on the right path is the only way that I’ll make these dreams come true. But I also understand that life can get in the way, and sometimes that deer in the field next to you or that really cool car driving by can quickly take your focus off of the road right in front of you.
But we can bring our focus back just as quickly as it falters. We can avert our eyes from the distractions that surround us and stare steadfastly at where we want to go. Maybe you don’t know where you want to go, but as long as you’re moving forward and focused on moving forward, you’re going the right direction.
If we steer where we stare, are you staring at something that will help you move forward towards a life you want, or are you staring at something that will move you further from the life you want?
When I was in high school I was very active in band and choir. I played clarinet for roughly seven years and I sang in the choir for two. In my time in the music department, I’ve heard and played a lot of songs that have spoken to me on a level that can only be reached by music or literature. However, no piece has touched me more than “On a Hymnsong of Phillip Bliss” by David Holsinger. If you have ever heard the phrase, be it in song or poem, “it is well with my soul,” this song is inspired from the story behind that phrase.
In the late-1800’s, a man was planning a trip for he and his family to go to Europe. Right before the time of departure, the man was needed in Chicago and had to stay in the states to take care of some business, but he decided to send his wife and daughters on the ship to Europe as planned and he would follow them later on. However, after a few days, the man received a phone call from his wife who had landed in Europe informing him that the boat had been struck during its journey and sank within minutes – only she and a few survivors had made their way safety, his daughters not being a part of that few. Soon after, the man got on another ship to join his wife.
The story goes that as the ship was sailing overseas near the point where his daughters had drowned, the man was overcome with grief but turned to God. Here he was, in the midst of heartache and despair, turning upwards to God and saying, “When peace like a river attendth my way / when sorrows like sea-billows roll / whatever my lot, Thou has taught me to know; / it is well, it is well with my soul.”
I played this piece at least once a year for three years in a row, and every time I played it I found myself in tears. There’s something unbelievably powerful about a faith so strong that it can give you peace at a time where peace seems unthinkable. I know everyone goes through heartache and they experience pain on different levels than the ones around them, but how often, in the midst of that hurt, can you remember turning to God and thinking that it is well with your soul? For three years now, this song, this poem, and this story, are a constant reminder to me that while trials may come and hardship will bear it’s way into my life, I know I will always be reassured of God’s support in my helpless state and it will always, always, be well with my soul.