Turn your eyes upon Jesus

The Things Of Earth Will Grow Strangely Dim

When I was a kid, my parents were not church-goers nor did they every speak of or teach us anything Biblical or spiritual at all. When I was seven years old, my dad made the decision to leave our family and divorce my mom. That turned into a single mom trying to raise me and my older brother on her meager income in the late 1960’s. Life began to spiral down for all of us to the point that we moved to another town where my grandparents could help my mom through that difficult time. In the midst of all of these transitions, God did something providential and profound in my life.

Our apartment in the housing project was just two blocks from my grandma Ralston – my dad’s mom. That meant I could ride my bike over there pretty much any time I wanted. Mom would often have me stay with Gram on Saturday nights (I can only speculate why, but I’m glad she did). Each of those Sundays, Gram would take me to church with her at Marshall First Christian Church. I would sit beside her in the fourth row from the back on the right (so she could be under the speaker to be able to hear the preacher better). Many of my Sunday mornings this was the routine. To me – about ten or eleven years old at the time – it all seemed like a waste of time to me.

Jesus became real to me

Fast forward ten years to when I was twenty-one years old. Long story short, I surrendered my life to Jesus Christ through the ministry of Fellowship of Christian Athletes while in college at WKU. The subtle messages from all those Sundays at church with Gram had been an undertone in my life all those years. That began my life-long journey with Jesus.

Another three decades later, God led me to a career in full-time ministry as a Christian counselor. My wife Ann and I have devoted our life’s work to this amazing calling in our lives. Surprisingly, this role opened the door to me preaching regularly at a very traditional Christian church in a nearby city. To be honest, this church is the first church I’ve stepped foot into since my last Sundays in my Gram’s church back in the early 70’s. And it looks like nothing has changed there since at least that long. It was the first church I’ve attended where the congregation still sang traditional hymns since being at Marshall FCC.

I had memorized the words without realizing it

Funny thing — I know the words to every single hymn we sing at that little church across the river. I never once participated in singing them fifty years ago (I was way too cool for that). But God was planting the words and messages of every one of those hymns deeply into my heart. One of my favorite old hymns is entitled Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus. This devotional hymn was written in 1918 by Helen Lemmel, an accomplished hymnwriter and soloist, the daughter of a Methodist Minister. She was moved to write the words and music after reading a small booklet by Lilias Trotter entitled “Focussed” and hearing of her life story. She titled the hymn “The Heavenly Vision” but it is best known by the first line of the refrain, “Turn your eyes upon Jesus”.

The Heavenly vision

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!

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.

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!

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.

by Helen Howarth Lemmel
copyright 1918

A profound principle I live my life by


“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.” In the language of the twenty-first century world we live in, this line might read as: When you become a fully-committed follower of Jesus Christ, the priorities and values of the world will become less and less significant in your life.

My heart’s desire each day is to more intently turn my eyes upon Jesus. I pray that might become your life’s purpose as well.


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