Sunday, August 26, 2018

Three Habits to Prevent "Out of Sight, Out of Mind"

You’re familiar with the phrase, “out of sight, out of mind,” right? It summarizes a danger we all face - if friends moves away, will we just forget them? That does happen.

Or what about the challenges military families experience during deployments?  If a spouse is going to be gone for three months, or six months, or longer, how do the families at home keep those deployed close to their hearts when they’re not present physically? Marriages  have been wrecked when out of sight led to out of mind.

But the statement “out of sight, out of mind,” is not an inevitability, but only a danger. I have a dear friend I’ve known for over 40 years. In the last 20 years, he’s been “in sight” exactly three times, for only a week at a time. But we work hard to stay “in mind” through weekly phone calls and even more frequent emails and texts.

We have a number of military families in our church, and I’ve watched them during difficult deployments still figure out ways to keep their loved ones near. Thank God for the wonders of texting, emails, and Skype.

But even more urgent than keeping loved ones close while they’re physically distant is the challenge for those of us who follow Christ. God forbid that we succumb to “out of sight, out of mind” concerning our Savior.  It’s a tougher challenge because so far He’s never been in physical sight.

We are commanded to keep Him close, “in mind” as well as in heart. Hebrews 3:1, for example,  tells us to consider Jesus. The Greek word means to fix your eyes or your mind upon something, to contemplate. Jesus should occupy the central place in our thoughts and in our hearts. He should be the most important person in our lives. He’s our Savior, Lord, Friend and King.

We simply cannot allow the “out of sight” nature of our relationship to dull our attention (and thus our obedience) to Jesus. But how do we fix our minds on someone we cannot see?

There are probably dozens of creative answers to that question, but let me suggest three simple habits that will help keep Christ at the center of our hearts and minds.

1. Read His word every day. You cannot contemplate Christ if you don’t read the Bible. If this isn’t already a habit, start here. Jesus said, “You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is they that bear witness about me” (John 5:39, my emphasis). And as you read, keep asking, what does this teach me about Jesus?

2. Become so familiar with key scenes from Christ’s ministry that you can “replay” them in your mind. We all have “videos” in our memories. Some of them may be ugly and harmful. But many involve sports - I can still see John Elway’s helicopter dive for a touchdown in Super Bowl XXXII. Or family - Christmas with Zach on screen while he was in Afghanistan. Or tender moments - when Dionne accepted my proposal of marriage so long ago.

Stories of Christ in the Gospels can become so well-known that you can “watch” them in your mind. Here are three of my favorite scenes that have helped build my faith and increase my awareness of the presence of Christ:

  • Jesus’ healing of the leper in Mark 1:40-45. See this poor man’s desperation, and savor Christ’s kindness, as He not only heals the man, but touches him while doing so.
  • Jesus’ raising the widow’s son in Luke 7:11-17. Notice how Jesus “just happened” to arrive at the exact moment the young man’s funeral was headed for the tombs, and how He spoke with such compassion to the grieving mother (“Don’t cry”).
  • Jesus’ calming of the storm at sea, Luke 8:22-25. Look at the fear of the disciples, experienced sailors, and the Savior’s effortless command that quelled the wind and waves.
The Lord will lead you to many other stories which can be engraved in your memory to strengthen your sense of the nearness and greatness of your Savior.

3. Tell someone else how Christ has blessed you. Telling a loved one what Christ means to you, giving thanks at your small group Bible study about answered prayer, and sharing the gospel with a neighbor or non-Christian friend are all ways to demonstrate the reality of the presence of Christ in your life. Of course it’s our responsibility to do these things, it’s our privilege to speak about the Lord, but it is also an incredible personal boost to our own faith.

The truth is, Jesus is with us, He’s as near as our next breath, and He’s at work in our lives. So let’s don’t ever let “out of sight” become “out of mind.”