Thursday, March 14, 2019

Singing--Part 7: Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus

"Turn Your Eyes upon Jesus," a song that has become well known and well loved, was written in 1918 by singer/songwriter Helen Howarth Lemmel and has been included in most evangelical hymnbooks ever since. I grew up singing the chorus of this song often in church in the fifties and sixties as part of the congregational song service, and it became one of my favorites:

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. 

One night in my dorm room my freshman year of college, this song became especially dear to me. Feeling the pangs of unrequited love, I lay on my bed in the dark and came to grips with the fact that a summer relationship with a Christian young man had been simply a friendship, not a romance.

Me in college
My roommate and I had turned out our lights and were lying in our beds sharing our struggles about boyfriends. I knew she was hurting. 

To show her I understood, I mourned aloud how hurt I felt that I had not heard from this particular young man. I was shocked when she began to taunt me with words something like this: "You're always talking about trusting the Lord. Isn't this one of those times?"

Those words cut me. Hurt and tearful, I quit talking. But I couldn't stop thinking about what she'd said. Even though it hurt, she was right. Then, seemingly out of nowhere, the song, "Turn Your Eyes upon Jesus," popped into my head. 

As I sang it over silently, I felt as though I were literally looking into His wonderful face. And the things of earth grew strangely dim as I was lifted "into heavenly places in Christ Jesus," (as the Apostle Paul described in Ephesians 2:6).

The hurt was gone. I could cherish that special summer friendship. From it, I had discovered what I would look for in a husband. And I found that special someone the next year.

Now, when the challenges of life become overwhelming, I close my eyes and begin to sing, "Turn your eyes upon Jesus; look full in His wonderful face..." and He lifts me up to see life from His perspective. He gives me grace and strength to carry on. 

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