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You tend to find what you are looking for

By: Phil Sparling, Auburn Grace Community Church
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The last time I was in Southern California I went for short bike ride by the beach. I reached the end of a local pier and took a seat on the bench. Because of the roughness of the wood and little bird "gifts" left all around I had to be careful where I sat. Glancing around more closely I could not help but realize this was a popular seagull hangout. The evidence of their gatherings was abundant. After a moment I looked through the rail slats and noticed a beautiful sunset occurring in the distance. An ocean sunset is unlike any other sunset in the world. The vastness of the ocean as it slowly swallows the sun is fascinating and beautiful. A myriad of songs have been written about such a scene. The blue sky, the shimmering water and the bright sun disappearing over the horizon is a special sight. I realize I am sitting in the presence of quite a contrast; immediately surrounding me is worn wood and bird leftovers. But on the horizon is beauty and splendor. I realize that I have the choice to focus on either of the two. I could spend my few quiet moments focusing on my immediate surroundings or I could spend it gazing out on the horizon, the beauty. Someone once wrote that there are two kinds of people in the world: those who see the blemish before they see the beauty and those who see the beauty before they see the blemish. Either way, we see what we choose to see. I'm not saying we ignore the things around us and bury our heads in the sand. But there is so much good and beauty around, if we choose to see it. There is also much ugliness and filth, and if we are not careful our lives can be consumed with the blemishes we see. As you look at the people in your life - your families, your friends, your co-workers - what do you see? Do you see the blemishes or do you see the beauty? One of my favorite verses in the Bible shares how God views his children. "I tell you, now is the time of God's favor, now is the day of salvation." God views us with favor. Now I know that I am a sinner, saved by his grace. I know that sin still lives in me and that each day I strive to move toward holiness. But I'm so glad I've been justified. I'm so glad I've received a position in Christ that is glorious. When the Lord looks down at my life He can look past the splintery areas and see the beauty he has placed there. He sees me for what I will be. He sees the beauty in us more than he sees the blemishes. Although he is mindful that we are dust and struggle as we walk this planet, he can look past all that and, without excusing our flaws and sins, see the beauty. He then treats us according to this view. As children of God we can choose to look around at others and at life's circumstances and only see the worn wood and bird droppings. Someone once wrote that hummingbirds seek nectar, the sweetness in life, while vultures seek that which is dead and wasting. Both find exactly what they are looking for. The same can be said of us. We tend to find what we fix our eyes on. Both views from the bench on which I sat are reality. There really is dirt, sin and hurt all around. But there, at the exact same time, is beauty and majesty. It was up to me to decide where to set my gaze. What you want to see each day is exactly what you will see. So tomorrow, say a prayer as you get out of bed. Ask God to help you see more beauty and fewer blemishes. Ask him to give you the mind of Christ and seek out that which is noble, upright, and honorable so you can think about these things. Let's seek his majesty and splendor. Then, each time you see beauty and majesty, send up a prayer of gratitude, thanking God for making something so wonderful. I bet at the end of the day you will have enjoyed living a whole lot more. I got up and headed back. Another meeting is scheduled and in the distance I see some seagulls approaching. Phil Sparling is the pastor at Auburn Grace Community Church.