When I was a teenager, I went on a backpacking trip to New Mexico. I prepared for months. I worked out, walked day after day in my hiking boots, and took nightly strolls with a weighted backpack. Upon arriving in New Mexico and adjusting to the altitude for a day, we began, and I was ready—or so I thought.
As I began hiking through the thin mountain air with sixty pounds on my back, the excursion proved less desirable than I expected. On day three of the trip, I found myself stumbling along the trail, head down, and simply attempting each next step. My feet became the focus. As I labored to take yet another step, I remember realizing that taking the next step was not why I was there. I had lost the vision. I could have looked at my boots from my front porch, but I had journeyed halfway across the country to take in the beauty of creation. Now I was missing it.
Losing our vision along the path is quite easy. The daily chores, routines, and stresses of life take over. Each next step seems all-important. At times, we are simply trying to make it through the day or even the next hour. Even godly pursuits such as reading the Bible, praying, memorizing Scripture, and exercising hospitality lose focus. They are not intended to be ends in themselves, but quickly become so. And the vision is lost.
What vision must the Christian keep before their eyes? One must rise above all others. The psalmist rightly says, “One thing have I asked of the Lord, that will I seek after: that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to gaze upon the beauty of the Lord and to inquire in his temple” (Ps. 27:4). What must be our vision? It must be the beauty of the Lord.
Our heads quickly nod in agreement, but reality proves more difficult. Pursuing Christ, seeking to gaze upon His beauty, is a daily discipline for the Christian. We want to know, serve, love, and obey Christ because we desire to see Him above all else. But this vision does not come easily. It requires discipline, mind engagement, and holy pursuit. Anything that hinders our view must be jettisoned. Anything that increases our view must be embraced. Nothing proves more lovely to our souls, more worthy of our affections, or more glorious to our minds.
Christ is our pursuit in this life and the next. As Paul said, “For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain” (Phil. 1:21). As you go about your daily work, do so with Christ in view. As you seek to parent your children and love your spouse, do so with Christ in view. As you read your Bible and pray, do so with Christ in view. Plead with Him every morning to give you a greater vision of His beauty. Thank Him every evening for the delights you enjoyed.
And as we pursue a vision of Him by faith, He promises a vision of Him by sight in the world to come (1 John 3:2). Let this motivate us unto the end. Labor to steal every slight view of Him in the present, looking to the future when you shall know Him in full even as you are fully known (1 Cor. 13:12).