It was in a little wood in early morning.
The sun was climbing behind a steep cliff in the
east, and its light was flooding nearer and nearer
and then making pools among the trees. Suddenly,
from a dark corner of purple brown stems and tawny
moss there shone out a great golden star. It was
just a dandelion, and half withered - but it was
full face to the sun, and had caught into its
heart all the glory it could hold, and was shining
so radiantly that the dew that lay on it still
made a perfect aureole round its head. And it
seemed to talk, standing there - to talk about the
possibility of making the very best of these lives
For if the Sun of Righteousness has risen
upon our hearts, there is an ocean of grace and
love and power lying all around us, an ocean to
which all earthly light is but a drop, and it is
ready to transfigure us, as the sunshine
transfigured the dandelion, and on the same
condition - that we stand full face to God.
Gathered up, focussed lives,
intent on one aim - Christ - these are the lives
on which God can concentrate blessedness. It is
"all for all" by a law as unvarying as any law
that governs the material universe.
We see the principle shadowed in the
trend of science; the telephone and the wireless
in the realm of sound, the use of radium and the
ultra violet rays in the realm of light. All these
work by gathering into focus currents and waves
that, dispersed, cannot serve us. In every branch
of learning and workmanship the tendency of these
days is to specialize - to take up one point and
follow it to the uttermost.
And Satan knows well the power of
concentration; if a soul is likely to get under
the sway of the inspiration, "this one thing I
do," he will turn all his energies to bring in
side-interests that will shatter the gathering
And they lie all around, these interests.
Never has it been so easy to live in half a dozen
good harmless worlds at once - art, music, social
science, games, motoring, the following of some
profession, and so on. And between them we run the
risk of drifting about, the "good" hiding the
"best" even more effectually than it could be
hidden by downright frivolity with its smothered
heart-ache at its own emptiness.
It is easy to find out whether our lives
are focussed, and if so, where the focus lies.
Where do our thoughts settle when consciousness
comes back in the morning? Where do they swing
back when the pressure is off during the day? Does
this test not give the clue? Then dare to have it
out with God - and after all, that is the shortest
way. Dare to lay bare your whole life and being
before Him, and ask Him to show you whether or not
all is focussed on Christ and His glory. Dare to
face the fact that unfocussed, good and useful as
it may seem, it will prove to have failed of its
What does this focussing mean? Study the
matter and you will see that it means two things -
gathering in all that can be gathered, and letting
the rest drop. The working of any lens -
microscope, telescope, camera - will show you
this. The lens of your own eye, in the room where
you are sitting, as clearly as any other. Look at
the window bars, and the beyond is only a shadow;
look through at the distance, and it is the bars
that turn into ghosts. You have to choose which
you will fix your gaze upon and let the other go.
Are we ready for a cleavage to be wrought
through the whole range of our lives, like the
division long ago at the taking of Jericho, the
division between things that could be passed
through the fire of consecration into "the
treasury of the Lord," and the things that, unable
to "bide the fire" must be destroyed? All aims,
all ambitions, all desires, all pursuits - shall
we dare to drop them if they cannot be gathered
sharply and clearly into the focus of "this one
thing I do"?
Will it not make life narrow, this
focussing? In a sense, it will - just as the
mountain path grows narrower, for it matters more
and more, the higher we go, where we set our feet
- but there is always, as it narrows, a wider and
wider outlook, and purer, clearer air. Narrow as
Christ's life was narrow, this is our aim; narrow
as regards self-seeking, broad as the love of God
to all around. Is there anything to fear in that?
And in the narrowing and focussing, the
channel will be prepared for God's power - like
the stream hemmed between the rock-beds, that
wells up in a spring - like the burning glass that
gathers the rays into an intensity that will
kindle fire. It is worthwhile to let God see what
He can do with these lives of ours, when "to live
How do we bring things to a focus in the
world of optics? Not by looking at the things to
be dropped, but by looking at the one point that
is to be brought out.
Turn full your soul's vision to Jesus,
and look and look at Him, and a strange dimness
will come over all that is apart from Him, and the
Divine "attrait" by which God's saints are made,
even in this 20th century, will lay hold of you.
For "He is worthy" to have all there is to be had
in the heart that He has died to win.
Hath not each heart a passion and a
Each some companionship for ever sweet,
And each in saddest skies some silver gleam,
And each some passing joy, too fair and fleet,
And each a staff and stay, though frail it
And each a face he fain would ever see?
And what have I? an endless stream of love,
A rapture, and a glory, and a calm,
A life that is an everlasting Psalm,
All, O Beloved, in Thee.
Index of Lilias
Trotter's Writings and Artwork