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  • Kimberly Oden

Dying with Eyes Wide Open

I love Psalm 125:5-6! In my 26+ years of parenting, that has been one of the cornerstone promises of God on which I stand. There have been many seasons through the years where I have wept as I aimed to plant seeds of wisdom, hoping and praying they would take root in my sons, all the while wondering when the day would come that I would indeed, “sing” as I “returned with the harvest.” I think it is the longing of every parent’s heart to see their sons and daughters walk in wisdom and to experience the fruit of following Jesus!

Well, this verse was included in my One Year Bible reading for the day and as I read it, new revelation surfaced. Before I share more, however, I need to give some context. The past few weeks have been grueling. I will not share the details, however at one point I had a conversation with a friend who described the passing of her brother. My heart ached as she talked about the last few moments she had with him. As she did, she used a phrase that pricked my heart…she said, “…right before he passed, he opened his eyes…he died with his eyes wide open.”

“Dying With Eyes Wide Open” <= that phrase landed on my heart like a lead weight and it wouldn’t shake as the day unfolded. That evening I met with a friend for dinner and she talked about picking up our cross and following Jesus. It made me smile because it was such a visual for me of, “dying with my eyes wide open.” If we are all learning to lead by choosing to follow Jesus, then there is no place that is off limits, including his death (AND resurrection), right?

Just a few weeks prior, I read how Jesus knew that His time to return to heaven was nearing so He, “resolutely set out for Jerusalem.” (Luke 9:51) Another version says that He, “steadfastly set his face for Jerusalem,” the place where He knew He would be crucified! The word, “resolutely" resonated so I looked it up:

  • Resolutely – Sterizoto fix firmly; to buttress; to firmly establish; to solidly plant in order to eliminate vacillation

Jesus steadfastly set his face like flint in order to return to the very place that would lead to His death. He approached his death with eyes wide open. He did not vacillate in his gait towards death and if we are choosing to follow Him then neither should we!

The very morning that my friend shared her story with me, the One Year Bible reading for the day had Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane. John writes that, “Jesus FULLY REALIZED ALL that was going to happen to Him, so He stepped forward to the meet the men that had come to arrest Him." Did you catch that? He stepped forward. He stepped towards the men that He FULLY KNEW would arrest Him and lead Him to his beyond excruciatingly painful death.

He didn’t shut his eyes.

He didn’t try to hide.

He FULLY REALIZED that they had come to lead him to His death

and even so,

He, “stepped forward” to meet death with eyes wide open.

As I read that I wonder if He pondered what He had spoken just a few chapters prior when He proclaimed,

The hour has come that the Son of Man should be glorified. Most assuredly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it produces much grain. John 12:23-24

Then in verses 25-26, He gives us instruction on how to follow…

He who loves his life will lose it, and he who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternity. If anyone serves Me, let him follow Me; and where I am, there my servant will also be.

Jesus knew He had to die so that those who accepted His free gift of salvation might live! Not only did He KNOW this, but He made the conscious decision to leave His holy and high throne in heaven in order to live a life with eyes wide open knowing that it would end in mocking, ridicule, persecution and death - all so that we might live!

Ok, sidebar for a sec – anytime the Lord gives me a fresh revelation, I find that He often provides opportunity to walk it out before I write or share about it…remember how I mentioned that the past few weeks had been grueling? Well the end of the wearisome week had finally drawn near and I ended it with one of those, “Terrible, Horrible, No-Good, Very Bad Days”. Tears were leaking out the corners of my eyes as I pondered the gazillion tasks that needed to be completed within the next hour. I had a song playing on repeat that had surfaced during my morning workout. The title is, “Eyes On You”. (Can you even believe it? Yes, God did that in His perfect timing! He provided a song that SO spoke to the revelation that was unfolding!) I received a text from another friend who asked if we could talk before the day ended. I replied “Yes, but I need to finish up a few things first.” I finally made my way to meet with her, exhausted, completely spent… As she began to speak, I noticed that her face was flushed and her heart was beating so hard that I could hear the tension through her words. She was sitting and I heard the Lord whisper, “Kneel down before her, Kimberly”. I did… She was eating a cracker so as she continued to speak, tiny little cracker pieces flew through the air towards my face. I wanted to stand. I wanted to tell her what a difficult day, week, heck, year, this has been but the Holy Spirit whispered, “Remain right where you are, sister. This is practice. Let me show you what it means to die with your eyes wide open.” I listened with grace and compassion through the Lord’s leading and by His indwelling peace and understanding. The conversation ended with hugs and with fresh insight of what it means to plant my flesh in tears…dying with my eyes wide open, cracker crumbs and all! As I later processed the conversation, I had a funny thought that turned into the title of this blog: “Dying With Eyes Wide Open | Warning: Safety Goggles May Be Needed” :)

All these years of parenting I thought that I was planting seeds of wisdom when perhaps all that needed planting was my flesh?! A popular parenting phrase is, “More is caught than taught”. Perhaps all of my talking and telling was less effective than simply waking in humility and love? I have mentioned this so many times in my musings, but there are MANY moments in my past years of parenting when I wish I could just, “highlight, click and delete”! Moments when I thought I had so much to say; moments when a loving and listening ear followed by a simple question would have impacted my sons’ hearts far more than the wisdom I thought I had to share...

I wonder in the grander scale of life if those moments when we want to be known, we want to be seen, we want to be vindicated, respected or honored can become a beckoning invitation by Jesus, to be planted so that our flesh might die and the Spirit of the Living God might fully live?! Yes, I wonder if, “planting in tears” might be a Divine invitation to die with our eyes wide open?

Oh, Jesus, we need You! In and of ourselves we do not have what it takes to follow in your Divine footsteps...Living life this side of heaven is SO full of ups and downs and wants and needs and yet if we are truly honest, all we need is eyes fixed on you, the Maker of heaven and earth! Our Resurrection! Our very life, indeed! The world in which we live tempts our flesh moment by moment to rise up and bite the apple of offense, to sit, soak and sour in hurt and hard circumstances as if they are dear friends. Jesus, you said that if we “hate” our life, we will keep it for eternity! We desire this more than anything we think we deserve! Father, I confess the moments when I thought I had so much to offer – my own thoughts, my own opinions or even just a desire to be known. I confess the moments when I thought I deserved anything other than death and the subsequent resurrection life that only You can offer! Help us all to pick up our cross and follow You. Yes, help us to fix our eyes on You alone! May You alone hold all of our affection. May we, like Jesus, fix our face like flint resolutely setting out to follow in Your footsteps towards the death of our personal feelings, thoughts, decisions, and actions. Have Your Way with us as we allow our flesh to die so that You might redeem our very lives, allowing them to become a living testimony that reveals who You are in us! Father, Son and Holy Spirit, strategically lead us with eyes wide open, wooing us to plant our flesh in tears so that we might one day raise shouts of joy as we return with a harvest of life!

p.s. Here is a the song Eyes On You by Mosaic MSC

Isn't it so easy to take our eyes off of the Father, our sole Provider, and look instead at the facts that lay ahead? As the lyrics poured through my office the other day, I was reminded that nothing compares or comes close to our Father who loves and cares for us all the way down to the deep recesses of our heart and soul. When tempted to falter in our faith or to let our flesh rise up, may we follow the lead of the lyrics allowing our flesh to die with eyes wide open all the while keeping our gaze firmly fixed on Jesus, the only One worthy of holding our attention:

Eyes on You You have all my attention Eyes on You You hold all my affection Always You Forever, I will keep my eyes on You Eyes on You You have all my attention Eyes on You You hold…

Ok, one last tidbit...I decided to take a break and watch the video above when suddenly I remembered that the keyboardist of Mosaic MSC is a graduate from LCA during the Bristol Oaks days!!! Collin graduated with my oldest son in the class of 2010! What a tangible and visual reminder of the "why" behind the "what" of years of dying to our flesh as we co-founded LCA! I mean God is so good to reveal this tangible fruit in the midst of learning to die with eyes wide open! I love that His God-winks remind us of His foundational faithfulness and that we can trust Him to reveal resurrection life in and through our lives as we learn to lead by choosing to follow Him even unto death!

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