Tuesday, February 11, 2014

the very best

I'm currently reading a little book that gives a glimpse into the lives of five "faithful" women. 
Today I began reading about Lilias Trotter. 
I haven't finished her story yet but I was struck by some of her words and wanted to share them.

A little about Lilias Trotter:

Lilias, born in England, lived from 1853-1928. 
She had an incredible talent for art, particularly painting. 
Her mother sent Lilias' work to John Ruskin, known to be "the voice of the art world"at the time. 
He took her in as a pupil and claimed that if she would devote herself to her artwork 
"she would be the greatest living painter and do things that would be immortal."

Here are her words:

"Never has it been so easy to live in half a dozen good harmless worlds at once --art,
music, social science, games, motoring, the following of some profession, and so on. 
And between them we run the risk of drifting about, the "good" hiding the "best.". . .

It is easy to find out whether our lives are focused, and if so, where the focus lies. 
Where do our thoughts settle when consciousness comes back in the morning? 
Where do they swing back when the pressure is off during the day? . . 
Dare to have it out with God . . . and ask Him to show you whether or not all is focused on Christ and His glory.

How do we bring things to a focus in the world of optics? 
Not by looking at the things to be dropped, but by looking at the one point that is to be brought out.
Turn your soul's vision to Jesus, and look and look at Him, and a strange dimness will come over all that is apart from Him."
. . .

Life always has and always will be full of "harmless worlds" to devote ourselves to. 
Be it books, fashion, fitness, music, movies, or "motoring". 
Our lives can be divided and dispersed between so very many interests. 
Or maybe not so many. 
Maybe we just have our one thing that we are intensely passionate about. 
It drives us, it gives us self worth or purpose. 
For Lilias, it could have been painting.
For me- 
In high school it could have been music.
In college it could have been finding a spouse.
Presently, it could be motherhood.

Music.
A spouse.
Motherhood.
Those are all certainly good things. 

But Lilias warns, don't be caught drifting among the "good" and miss the "best"!

How do you know if you're doing that?

Lilias gives this challenge;

What's your first thought in the morning?

What is it you can't wait to get to when your to-dos are checked off at the end of the day?

Be honest.

Is your aim Christ and his glory?

Are you preferring good things when you could have the Ultimate?

If your answer is "no", like mine in countless cases, what do you do?
I know I have the tendency to begrudgingly try to "let go" of these things.
But with that mentality my focus is still on that very thing, by trying to focus on it-less.

Which doesn't work by the way.

I had to read that last point she made again. 
Optics. She's talking about the eye! I imagined a camera and that helped.

"Not by looking at the things to be dropped, but by looking at the one point that is to be brought out."

Focus doesn't happen by erasing the background. 
It happens by illuminating the main thing.
The "best" thing.

The best thing is always Jesus.

"Turn your soul's vision to Jesus, and look and look at Him, and a strange dimness will come over all that is apart from Him."

Illuminate Jesus by taking time to look at him.
And then look at him some more.
The Bible gives us the ability to do that. 
We can meditate on the truths of Scripture that show us God's goodness, 
ultimately in His son Jesus, and He alone is worthy of our devotion.
 . . .
Lilias' last point almost read like a song didn't it?
That's because it is.
Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus was written in 1922 by Helen H. Lemmel,
inspired by those very words of Lilias Trotter.
Have a listen, just press play.
. . .
Lilias did not choose to devote herself to art as the renowned John Ruskin would have it.
She chose to devote her life to Jesus and making him famous in the world.




1 comment:

Kate Murray said...

This isso great Janaye. Such a challenge! Thank you

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