Eyes Wide Open

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Heads up to the reader: I like to ask questions. If you feel led to do so, I’d like to encourage you to slow down, grab a pen and some paper, and answer the questions honestly as you go through this entry. My hope is that you will pause, take a moment to reflect, and adjust your vision for the day ahead. So, here we go . . .

Hello, everyone–Laura Sue here! I’m a daydreamer. Anyone else? For as long as I can remember, I’ve struggled with having my head in the clouds. I love daydreaming. It’s an escape. What do I daydream about? Life someday. Where I’d love to go. Adventures I’d love to have. My house someday. My family someday. Sometimes I daydream about how things used to be, but I mostly think about the future “what ifs.” Am I the only one? Surely not. I’m a romantic at heart and I’ve learned over time to celebrate that this is how God wired me and that’s okay. I’ve caught myself, however, often dreaming in a self-pitying and even covetous kind of way. You know what I’m talking about, right? It often involves what we refer to as the comparison-trap. Has this ever happened to you? Girl, I’m right there with you! How many times have I dreamt of running away–of escaping the reality of life and going somewhere(does this magical place even exist, btw??) where I don’t have to worry about anything and where everything is beautiful and where there’s no stress? If you know what I’m talking about, hang out with me for a minute. I want to share something with you. I want to share a reminder that I’m still learning, but that I hope will help you face those moments where you just want to escape.

How often do you pause in your day to notice the moments in front of you? Do you recall the sights, sounds, smells, tastes, and textures from the day? I mean, when it’s the end of the day and your head hits the pillow (finally!), do you remember moments of your day or is it one big blur? Today, we’re talking about living life with eyes wide open. I used to think that this concept of having my eye truly open only applied to the “big” moments–a moment of celebration, vacation, etc. I’m starting to think it’s a little different than that though. I’m starting to think that having my eyes wide open has a lot more to do with the little things–the mundane. Have you ever thought about it? What does living with your eyes wide open mean to you? Do you feel like you live your life with eyes wide open? Do you have blinders on? Or are you struggling to even keep your eyes open at all? What, if anything, keeps you from living with eyes wide open? Take a minute to scribble some thoughts down before you read more. It’s okay. I’ll be right here. We’re not in a rush . . .

Ok, so it’s no secret that this time of year is popular for vacation. I’m willing to bet you either participated in some sort of vacation (even if it was a day or two) recently or you have one coming up in the next month or so. People seem to be more intentional in slowing down in the summer months. When we think of vacation, we sometimes think it’s easy to unplug and notice things that strike us as special or unusual compare to our typical days, but what if we lived everyday like that? What if we treated every moment as a gift instead of only the ones we’ve deemed worthy as labeling “special?”

Raise your hand if you’re a sucker for a good romantic comedy! Me!! Me!! This list is stupid-long for me (no shame whatsoever), but when I think about living life with eyes wide open, the movie Elizabethtown comes to mind. Have you seen it? In the film, one of the characters makes a habit of pausing in the middle of a moment, raising her hands to her face as if she’s holding a camera, and “snapping” an imaginary photo of the moment in front of her so that she doesn’t forget it. This idea has stuck with me throughout the years (Pam Beesly even does it the day she marries Jim, as I’m sure all fans of The Office recall) and I do my best to collect my moments in a similar fashion. How do you collect your moments? Do you even collect them? Or are they whizzing by in one big blur? God is so patient with us as we try to figure out this life, but I wonder how often he’d love to place his hands on our shoulders and shift our attention ever so slightly so we don’t miss what He’s placed in front of us.

IMG_9313There are vivid moments in my life I can recall living with eyes wide open. Looking back, I’m honestly not sure if it was my choice to open my eyes a little wider or if God, in His generosity, widened them for me. Either way, I’m grateful. One of these moments was when I was 16 and visiting Windy Gap, a Young Life camp in North Carolina. It was December, and the early winter temperatures felt pretty cold to a girl from Savannah, Georgia. I remember walking the campus that first night, seeing my breath in front of me, and gazing up at the vast stars in the clear night sky. The crispness of that moment–both the temperature and the vision of the stars–stays with me today. I was in awe. I knew that the same God who created me had created those beautiful stars. And He cared for me. He knew my name. This was one of the first moments in my life when I was overcome with the awareness of how vast God’s creation was and yet how deeply he cared for me. I felt like a speck of dust in the grand scheme of things, but an important speck of dust. A treasured one. I bought a shirt that weekend that had a few lines from Psalm 96 on it that read, “Let the heavens rejoice, let the earth be glad; let the sea resound, and all that is in it. Let the fields be jubilant, and everything in them; let all the trees of the forest sing for joy.” Every time I wore that shirt, I thought about being in complete awe of God’s creation that I’d experienced firsthand that weekend in the North Carolina mountains. I was reminded to live with my eyes wide open and really see evidence of God in front of me.

This past spring I attended a worship conference at Passion City Church in Atlanta. I was so excited because I knew it meant that I would get the chance to hear Louie Giglio speak. There are a few men who have deeply impacted my walk with the Lord throughout the years, and Louie is one of them (Sidenote – if you’re single, do yourself a huge favor and go listen to Louie’s series called Boy Meets Girl. Then, when you date someone, make it a prerequisite that they have to listen at well). At the conference, Louie went through an incredible demonstration that I hope I remember for a long time. There’s no way I can fully describe it here, but what I will say is that Louie layered a few audible sounds from nature and demonstrated in essence a small glimpse into what the orchestra of earthly sounds must sound like to God. It was a striking reminder that everything was created to ultimately bring praise to God. Everything He created reflects his glory, and it reaches heaven in a grand symphony of sounds. Louie wrapped up the session with us all singing the song “So Will I” and I totally admit I had tears streaming down my face.

 

“And as You speak

A hundred billion creatures catch Your breath

Evolving in pursuit of what You said

If it all reveals Your nature so will I

I can see Your heart in everything You say

Every painted sky

A canvas of Your grace

If creation still obeys You so will I

So will I

So will I”

 

How is it possible to go through this life and not recognize the evidence all around us of an Almighty Creator? It’s humbling to know that if we cease to call out and praise God for who he is, the rocks will cry out in our place (Luke 19).

Just a few weeks ago I was in Ireland. While I did spend some time in a few cities, the countryside and coastlines were by far my favorite and there’s no question as to why they were the highlight for me. The same God who took my breath away on a cold night in North Carolina managed to make me stop in my tracks over and over at His incredible creation in the Irish countryside. It didn’t hurt that my favorite color is green, and they clearly don’t call it the Emerald Isle for nothing! I was in complete awe of the creation in front of me. I didn’t want to leave. Being separated from everything manmade reminded me of just how much more powerful and incredible God’s creation is than anything else on earth. As humans, we create because we were made in His image, but our creations will never compare the the original creator.

Ok, so here’s the real challenge. Are you open to it? I don’t think it’s a major feat to be impressed when you’re on vacation and looking at evidence of God’s mighty hands. Yes, those moments are powerful, beautiful, and they should be celebrated and tucked deep into our hearts. God definitely gets the glory for the creation that clearly only He could do like the snow-capped mountains, dramatic clifftops, beautiful blue waves in the ocean, etc. I think those are the baby-steps moments for living life with eyes wide open. So, what does it really mean to live life with eyes wide open? Well, I’m starting to think it’s got a lot more to do with (if I could borrow a phrase from Christy Nockels) seeing the glorious in the mundane. Are you noticing the beauty in the everyday things? Are you grateful for the small gifts that are in front of you all the time? I don’t know what those things are for you. But I do know that they are there. Take a minute to pause and write down things that you’ve noticed lately that you’re thankful for. Was it a conversation that was good for your heart? Was it something beautiful you spotted on your way to the grocery store? Was it it a piece of scripture? Was it a moment you were able to serve someone in front of you?

Living with our eyes (and hearts) wide open applies to not only the “big” moments, but the little ones, too. I hope you feel encouraged to remember that (even if you’re a daydreamer, like me) there are a lot of things around you that is part of the intimate love story God has just for you. He put them there and has provided them just so the two of you can share those moments. So, what has God put in front of you recently that he wants you to notice? Is it a person? Is it His creation? How has the Holy Spirit prompted you to pay attention? Are you being obedient in this moment? How could you choose to draw nearer to God right now?

Whether He’s calling you to learn His word, speak truth to His people, or simply praise Him for the Almighty God He is, I pray that you will humble yourself before the Lord in this moment, confess to Him how you feel, and allow Him to conduct communion with your heart and draw you in that much closer to His overwhelming love. The creator of the universe created you. He’d leave the 99 for you. Just to have this one little snapshot of a moment, with you.

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Laura Sue Johnson is a recovering emo kid who lives in north Georgia with her husband, Adam, and daughter, Imogen. She loves hip-hop and Jane Austen, and she will talk non-stop about Savannah, her hometown, if you let her. You can catch her blogging occasionally at www.laurasuejohnson.com and you can always catch her posting photos over on Instagram at @laurasuejohson.

 

 

 

 

One thought on “Eyes Wide Open

  1. I agree that the world around us is absolutely pregnant with the presence of God. It’s all the little things that form the fabric of our existence. I think it is because it’s the tiny details that make the moment “mine”, differentiating it from everyone else involved. How beautiful that my God wants to meet me there! Thank you for the challenge in this post!

    And, on a side note, Windy Gap is one of those sacred places for me. I always go back to a special formative time in my faith as a high school person. Just reading about it took me back to the high ropes course and Cheerwine with friends. Thank you.

    Like

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