“Keep your face always toward the sunshine and shadows will fall behind you.”
– Walt Whitman
When I was in college (over 25 years ago!), I was introduced to Walt Whitman’s poetry. I was attracted to his writing immediately. I couldn’t get enough of it. Little did I know then that God was speaking to me through those poems. Through Walt’s words, I was receiving the message of Jesus that would soon save my life – keep your eyes on Me and all the rest will fall away.
My favorite scene in the movie, “The Shack,” is when the main character, Mac, is sitting in a boat on the middle of a lake and the boat begins to sink. Mac immediately panics, trying desperately to keep the boat afloat. The water blackens and Mac loses control of the oars. He is sinking quickly and violently when he hears the words, “Keep your eyes on Me, Mac. Look at Me. Look at Me. Look at Me, Mac!” When Mac looks up from the water, he sees Jesus walking toward him, holding out His hands. The waters calm and the boat is no longer sinking. It is a beautiful image of one of the most important messages of the ministry of Jesus. No matter what is happening around us, we will be safe as long as our eyes are on the Son. All the chaos will fall behind us and all we will see is His love.
When I was in college I could appreciate poetry, but I couldn’t trust God. I could write love letters and poems, but I couldn’t talk to God. I could recognize the beauty of nature, but I couldn’t see God’s grace in the creation of me and those around me. I didn’t know any of this then, but God did. God gave me Walt Whitman’s poems when I couldn’t look at Jesus. He gave me Dean Koontz’s heroes when I couldn’t believe the stories of goodness from Sunday school sessions of the past. He gave me the “Big Book” of Alcoholics Anonymous when I couldn’t read the Bible. God put the Son in so many things that I could see so that I would eventually be able to find my way to Him. Through all those things, God gave me a taste of the freedom of shadows slowing falling behind me. Through all those poems, those stories, those flowers and trees and bunnies, God showed me the Light of His Son.
With tears of gratitude, I type in these words at this moment, recognizing the extraordinary measures God has gone to just for me. I am overwhelmed.