Let us approach the throne of grace with boldness, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us at the proper time.
This verse is really a great sense of direction for me. Proverbs 4:25 tells us to "let your eyes look forward; fix your gaze straight ahead." I've been pondering what it means to fix my gaze. How do I do that? What does that look like?
First, I have to recognize that "a fool's way is right in his own eyes" (Proverbs 12:15), and "there is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way to death (Proverbs 14:12). Therefore, I can conclude that looking to myself is not the answer. I can see that my emotions and thoughts are often very fickle, unstable, and unreliable. Proverbs 14:16 states, "A wise man is cautious and turns from evil, but a fool is easily angered and careless." It would be foolish for me to allow my emotions to steer my words and actions, or even to let my emotions run wild in my head. I fix my gaze when I commit to surrendering my emotions and thoughts to the Lord, even my perceived "rights" in any given situation.
Hebrews 12:2 tells me to keep my eyes on Jesus the source/author/founder and perfecter/finisher/goal of my faith. This reminds me that I am not the source of my faith. I am not the author of the book of faith. My faith is a gift from the Lord. He has given me a measure of faith and I am to be a good steward of it. (Romans 12:3, 1 Corinthians 12:9, Ephesians 2:8-9)
He is the perfecter of my faith. I rely on Him to refine me. I do not attempt to refine myself. God has really made it clear to me that I am not even to go digging through my past- I am supposed to fix my gaze straight ahead. When I go digging through my past, I bring up old hurts, regrets, frustrations, fears, and whatnot that cloud my vision and often plunge me into depression. I have seen the Lord work through my past, and His way is definitely better. He always approaches my past with tender love and care, and helps me maneuver through it gingerly, only dealing with precisely what I need to deal with at the time to resolve things that are currently going on. That's exactly what He did in this specific situation not too long ago. The Lord's goal in weaving me through areas of my past is always, always, always to bring healing to where I am right here and right now in order to perfect my faith and help me grow. So, in fixing my faith, I turn to him as the author and perfecter of my faith, relinquishing my desire to steer myself or to work things out myself. When I am tempted to refine myself through my own works, I put on the brakes and turn to the Lord. When I am tempted to go work things out (whether in the past or current), I turn to the Lord and trust that He will guide me down that road in His own timing.
Back to the verse I quoted in the beginning because I just love, love, love so many aspects of it.
First- "let us approach the throne of grace".... not the throne of judgment or the throne of wrath. Grace. I do not have to be afraid of approaching that throne! I can run to it! I should run to it! I need to remain there. Why do we approach the throne?
"That we may receive mercy..." It is there I receive mercy. I lay down what I have, and I gather mercy. Receive. That makes me all sorts of giddy! When I'm tempted to start beating myself up or giving myself a severe scolding, I remember.... there's mercy. I don't have to go down that other path. I can take the mercy that's at the throne. It's there, I just have to choose to take hold of it.
"And find grace to help us..." Not only do I receive mercy, but there at the throne I also find grace to help me take the next step, grace that helps me think, feel, and act as I should, grace that lifts up and brings healing. Praise the Lord for the mercy and grace which He generously offers and freely gives!!!
I fix my gaze by letting go of those things that would distract me, steer me off course. I lay them down at the throne, and receive mercy, find grace.
Lord, I am often tempted to fix my gaze on other things. This is not how I want to live this life. I want to be focused upon You! I realize that, when I turn my face away from you, I am not believing or trusting You. I repent, God! Forgive me for my foolishness! I truly desire to turn to wisdom's discipline! Help me to listen closely to wisdom and direct my heart to understanding (Prov. 2:2). I really struggle with that. My flesh wants to forge ahead, not stop and ask for directions or wait on You, Lord! Wisdom calls out to me, "If you turn to my discipline, then I will pour out my spirit on you and teach you my words." Lord! I really want that! I want to throw out my "mental hamster wheel" and fully depend upon the mercy and grace I find at Your throne. I know your mercy and grace is available to me at all times, in all situations and circumstances. I thank You that, because of Your goodness, I can come boldly before that throne to receive. Oh Jesus, help me to surrender all things to You and fix my gaze straight ahead. Even with the rapids of the ocean of life are licking at my feet and the storm is swirling around me, I know that I can walk on water when I fix my eyes upon You.