Sunsets and Weeds: You Have a Choice How You See It

Earlier this summer, I found myself outside weeding after dinner. What seemed to be a somewhat small weed on the surface became a much larger problem as I ran my hands along the grass and continued to pull up more and more of the weed. The weed had sent vine-like shoots that ran under the grass in all directions from the roots and appeared to be choking the grass. For the next forty-five minutes, I was caught up in trying to locate the center hubs of this weed so that I could pull up all of those hidden vines that seemed to be creating brown spots in our grass. The sun was almost gone by the time I looked up and realized how beautiful the sky right above me was. There was a brilliant display of colors—purples and blues faded into a full spectrum of pinks, oranges, and yellows. It was one of those sunsets that took my breath away and seemed to be extra colorful, but I had missed most of it because my eyes were focused on the ground. I had been so intent on locating the weeds and getting rid of them that I had no idea there was a beautiful display of colors right above me.

There are a lot of proverbial “weeds” in this world right now. A pandemic, polarizing politics, e-learning and school challenges, job stress/job loss, and financial concerns all resulting in increased anxiety, depression, and other mental health concerns. And the list goes on and on and on. The domino effect of things happening in the world seems to trail on just like the weeds in my yard. The news seems to be an endless spiral of doom. Facebook feeds are filled with people trying to prove their point with arguments and articles and anything else deemed necessary, and I am admittedly left feeling overwhelmed and lost.

I recognize that it is incredibly difficult to not have what’s happening in the world be the sole focus right now because it seems that everywhere you turn, you are met with yet another “weed” that needs attention, but I wonder what the cost of focusing solely on the weeds might be.  Just like the sunset was beautifully displayed above my head, there is beauty in the world today, too. It just matters where I place my focus. I can miss out on beauty if I only focus on the stress, or I can be intentional where I set my gaze.

If you have been raised with Christ, seek the things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your mind on things above, not on earthly things. For you died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. Colossians 3:1-3 (emphasis mine)

Essentially, Paul is reminding the Colossian church that life, death, and resurrection of Jesus has significant implications for the way they operate in life. He encourages them to not get trapped by philosophies or adding laws to the Gospel story. He reminds the church that the blood of Jesus alone paid for the penalty of sin and allows for believers to be reconciled to God and that adding anything to this (Jesus + anything) is not the Gospel story. Paul reminds them of the hope they have in Christ and that ultimately, this world is not our home. And his words serve as a reminder for us, too.

Has your mind been focused on the earthly things lately? Have you been lost in Facebook scrolls that lead to feeling more anxious? Are you spending more time during the day thinking about how frustrating the pandemic has been or how overwhelmed it makes you feel? Are your thoughts focused on the things that are true, honorable, and lovely?

Let’s get practical here for a moment. Maybe moving your sight from earthly things means uninstalling the Facebook app from your phone or setting a time limit for use each day. Maybe it means turning off the news and asking someone you trust to inform you of what you might need to know. Maybe it means turning off the secular music and playing something that helps you focus on Christ for a period of time. It might mean posting reminders of God’s promises on sticky notes around the house. Pay attention to the specific things that cause you to feel distracted and miss out on beauty and address them.

2020 has proved that an excessive focus on the weeds of this world will lead to a lack of peace, so let’s move our sight, friends. Look for the beauty. Ask yourself (or maybe ask around the dinner table), where did you see beauty or goodness in your day? The Gospel awards us the opportunity to look beyond the frustrating, discouraging, and overwhelming things of this world and set our eyes on Christ who is seated at the right hand of God. Praise God from whom all blessings flow!

Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me –practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you. Philippians 4:8-9

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