Gazing balls have graced gardens for hundreds of years dating back to the 13th Century, so I was a little surprised when my friend asked, “What’s the point of those shiny balls in the yard? I don’t get it.”
Gazing balls act like 3D mirrors in the garden, as the name suggests:
To gaze (v.) to look steadily and intently, as with great curiosity, interest, pleasure, or wonder.
I explained that when placed well, the reflective quality of the metal or glass balls are used to extend the sky, greenery and flowers surrounding them. They remind us to see the garden from a different angle.
If you’re like me, though, when you look at your yard all you see is the weeds.
And when you look in the mirror you notice the newest blemish or wrinkle. Why do we focus on faults when there is so much more in this world to capture our interest, pleasure, wonder?
We are told in scripture that our gaze is not to be focused on ourselves, but rather on our savior - Jesus – the author and finisher of our faith (Hebrews 12:2). Why? Because this world, with its faults and trials will make us weary.
I want to stay informed, but if I gaze too long at the news, this world seems hopeless.
I want to love my family members, but if I analyze all our interactions, the relationships are draining.
Our faith doesn’t just need a beginning, it needs perfecting/finishing and we won’t find that simply gazing at two dimensional images – whether our own or the one we have of others.
We need to look beyond. We need a better angle.
In the Hebrews 12 passage, it says that Jesus found inspiration in seeing beyond: “for the joy set before him, he endured the cross, despising the shame...” Had Jesus gone into the Garden of Gethsemane and looked merely at the upcoming crucifixion, he most certainly would not have had the conviction to press on. But it tells us that he chose more than the dimension before him.
On this side of heaven, we may never know if that "joy" was conquering death… saving you and I… or the promise of going home. But we do know there was joy set before him in that garden. And He chose to look beyond his circumstances and reflect the promises of God.
Unlike the fairy tale that vainly asks the mirror, "Who's the fairest of them all?" Jesus shows us that true beauty and blessing are in obedience.
This week I hope you find some time to spend in the garden. Whether you gaze into a ball, lay down on a blanket and look up into the sky, peer into a pond or find some other creative way to find a new angle, take God's word with you and open it with new intensity, curiosity, interest and wonder. Ask him to see beyond the here and now of your situation.
AND if you will not merely look at it differently, but DO what it says – there is a promise of blessing in reflecting true beauty!
“If anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man observing his natural face in a mirror; for he observes himself, goes away, and immediately forgets what kind of man he was.
But he who looks into the perfect law of liberty and continues in it,
and is not a forgetful hearer but a doer of the word,
this one will be blessed in what he does.” James 1: 23 & 24