Among those deacons on the latter occasion was a black brother who seldom spoke, and seemed rather mysterious. I couldn’t see his eyes, since he wore dark glasses, and when he did speak, he articulated his thoughts with great precision and deliberation. Who is this guy? I wondered. I soon learned that there was nothing sinister about Earl or his shaded eyes. Simply, he had to wear sunglasses for a while to aid his recovery from a medical problem affecting his eyes.
During my time in that role (yes, I did get the appointment), Earl and his wife became a special part of our ministry circle, and were supportive inspirations to my wife and me. He had a unique ability to communicate, and conducted a very stimulating and popular adult Bible class. Let me share with you just one little snippet that somewhat explains Earl and his communicative ability, which so inspired me.
Many years ago, he taught himself to concentrate and maintain focus. He would get alone, and sit facing a vase with a single, red rose. He looked at that rose, focusing not only eyes, but also his attention to its every detail – not for five minutes, or ten, or even thirty minutes, but for two hours at a time.
Presumably, Earl obtained a fresh rose when necessary, for over a period of several months he reduced the field of his mental focus in his mind-training exercise, until at last, his focus wasn’t on the whole rose, or even a single petal – but on the tip of one petal of the rose! This wasn’t just a matter of staring blankly, but an intense examination and consideration of the rose’s every feature.
Two hours of that at a time? Crazy! some may say. Yet, in our bustling, frenetic, always-on-the-go society, in which short attention spans are so often the norm, the discipline and training of the mind is so much a forgotten art, or an art never learned. This man’s speech and ability to say what he intended to say indicates its benefit.
Is Jesus the ‘Rose of Sharon’ to your soul? Yes? To me, too. Let us focus our minds on Him. Narrowing our focus by gazing on His loveliness – His love, His compassion, His grace, and so much more – enlarges our spiritual vision. Taking just the tip of the Rose – one aspect of His person – can occupy us at great length.
Two verses (NIV): Psalm 46:10, Be still, and know that I am God . . .
Hebrews 12:2, Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. (Emphases added)
Thank You that as our gaze is focused on Your grace as revealed in Jesus Christ, the Son of Your love, our minds become disciplined and our hearts delighted. May our lives articulate Your grace so that others will come to appreciate and enjoy the fragrance of the Rose of Sharon.