“Fix my eyes. Fix my eyes. Fix my eyes.”

This has recently become my daily prayer. As I’m walking through a season of changes and a busyness that has exceeded my expectations — admittedly even a wrestling in my contentment — I have found myself often uncertain of what I should request as I come before the Lord. So what I have found myself asking is simple and unembellished: that the Lord would fix my eyes upon Him.

I’ve learned that our eyes are never idle. They are restlessly scanning from one thing to the next, and as they do so, our hearts and our minds anchor to the fleeting fixations our eyes have found. Where we fix our eyes, so also there we find rest — or turmoil — for our souls. As believers, we must understand that we live in the midst of a spiritual realm, and we should consider our gaze to be on the unseen. While we may so quickly divert our sights from the physical “lust of the eyes” and the “lust of the flesh”, we forget that our hearts and our minds have gotten lost in places from which we cannot visibly or physically find a way out.

So what does it mean to fix our eyes? And to what should our gaze — as we look with our hearts and our thoughts and our hopes and our emotions — find its fixation?

“Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.” Hebrews 12:1-2

With this scripture in mind, here is why those three small words have been a soul-feeding and a sustaining prayer in a season of wanting to let my eyes wander.

When I fix my eyes, I lay aside every encumbrance.

The phrase of “fixing our eyes” that is used in Hebrews 12 means more than simply looking toward something. Rather, it requires first that we look away from other things. To divide our attention, to cast our eyes upon the world while trying to step forward in sanctification, will leave us hurting, wanting, and tired.

As is true for so many, I can quickly get lost in my head with no direction or ability to reroute my wandering heart. And for some reason, I find myself believing that this is the way to solve my anxieties. What if I don’t consider every possible outcome for my future? What if I don’t mull over the words of that last conversation? What if I don’t dwell on the hypothetical possibility that this might all come undone? If I don’t, who will? And If I don’t, who will fix it when it falls apart?

Jesus will. He is at work. And as I choose to think on these anxieties, when I begin to lust after the momentary pleasures of the world, or the allusive alleviations my mind creates for my temporal circumstances, I become entangled. I run slower and slower toward the cross, and I will inevitably begin to become tripped up in my sin. To fix my eyes on Jesus, I must first divert my gaze. I must be willing to relinquish my firm grip on the things of this world — both the bad and good. With an open hand and a repentant heart, I must set my mind to things that are above.

When I fix my eyes, I can run with endurance.

I’m not a runner. In fact, there a few things I enjoy less than running. But, on those rare occasions when I think, “Maybe, this time, it’ll be fun”, I only survive my short runs by the landmarks I set. The next tree, or that stop sign 100 yards ahead, or that small little rock on the side of the road I can barely make out — these are my lifelines. If I can just make it there, I can keep going. I can do anything for 20 more feet, I just can’t look beyond that.

As is true with Jesus. He is the fixation that will allow us to endure. Because here is the reality — we’ve got quite a race ahead of us. It is set out with mile markers of joy and suffering, peace and persecution. Even in the sweet downhill strides, the culmination of the race will be exhausting if done in our own ability. But if we can keep our eyes on Christ, we can endure. We can hold our heads high, taking deep breaths that fill our lungs and give us rest while we run and strengthen us to take the next step. And the thing is, we all will reach the end of the race. But I don’t want to be one who simply crawls across the finish line.

Endurance is more than survival. Biblically defined, it is to “not swerve from our deliberate purpose and our loyalty to faith and piety by even the greatest trials and sufferings”. Wow. By even the greatest trials and sufferings. Can I keep my gaze steady enough on Jesus, knowing that the temporal cannot compare to the eternal? That these present sufferings are not worth comparing to the glory that is to come? By His grace and power alone, I can.

When I fix my eyes, I realize that God is working for my good and His glory.

Stop, for just a moment, to consider that Jesus Christ is the author and perfecter of your faith. HE began your faith. HE sustains your faith. HE will complete your faith. When I meditate on this, when I feel the easy weight of this reality, my current circumstances slip from my grip. And praise the Lord for that. God’s sovereign kindness toward me has given me the eternal promise of glory. So with that in mind, how do I so quickly forget that His same sovereign kindness will give me the grace to step closer to that glory day by day?

I consider Jesus, I fix my eyes on Him, and I am sweetly reminded that I am secure in His promises. No trial, temptation, work of the enemy, or unfolding of my well-thought-out plans can thwart the hand of God. He will receive glory through my life, and to submit to this understanding, to call on Him to cultivate an obedient heart in me, will lead me into a lasting joy, not just a temporal happiness. For He who began a good work in me will carry it on to completion until the day I see Jesus face to face. The lover of my soul and the creator of the universe is working for my good.

When I fix my eyes, I can see Jesus clearly.

As Hebrews 12:2 ends, it recounts the Gospel. That Christ, a sinless savior, joyfully humbled Himself to the will of the Father and bore the transgressions of the world so that you and I could go free. With this in mind, It’s amazing to me that I would ever choose to look away. Yet I do. I look from left to right, I consider what’s all around me, rather than staring upward at the Cross. If only I would concentrate my gaze!

2 Corinthians 3:18 tells us that we — those who are made new in Christ — are able to look with an unveiled face at the magnificence of the Gospel. In fact, we are able to behold the glory of the Lord as clearly as we would our own reflection in the mirror. Because through Jesus, we are being sanctified and made more and more into His image. In His mercy, He has made this vision clear. His glory is not clouded to us. And unlike unbelievers, the Spirit of God has removed the veil from our eyes. Let us not cover our sights once again and fixate on anything other than Him. May Christ become clearer and dearer to us as we willfully cast our eyes on Him alone. And as the hymn says,

“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.”