Wardensville, West Virginia, may not be an important town, but it sure sits pretty. It is ensconced by North Mountain along the Virginia line and Anderson’s Ridge below on one side, and by Sandy Ridge, Little Ridge, and Big Ridge on the other. Lost River sinks near by as it is confronted with Sandy Ridge, and bubbles up on the other side heading up what is referred to as the Capon River, which flows right by Wardensville. Warden Lake and Trout Pond are located in the vicinity.
I grew up in that scenic valley setting. I used to hunt some in the area where the river re-emerges. It was a fascinating sight. A certain incident there once provided an instructive life lesson for me, which has come to parallel an insightful verse of Scripture.
In the spring time, the water comes up fast and shoots rapidly through the gap. The land owner built a submarine bridge not far below the site to access his property on the other side of the flow.
Rodney Fry and I were on a hike one Saturday morning with the intent of crossing the river at the bridge, and then climbing Little Ridge over to Warden Lake. It was a Boy Scout thing. However, when we got to the bridge, the water was rushing over it right at knee depth. Though a bit chancy, we decided to wade the forty feet across. It had been a lengthy hike to that point, and we did not want to turn back.
We did two things: first, we each picked up a large stone, which we figured would give us weight to hold us steady. Second, Rodney said, “Keep your eye on that Sassafras tree on the other side.” That tree became a focal point to keep us from being distracted and mesmerized by the rush of the water. It was gazing at that tree that was probably the key to our safe crossing, because looking down at the rushing water could have easily captured our attention. To have gotten swept away would not have been healthy, to say the least.
The associated Scriptural statement comes from the writer of the book of Hebrews, who talked about the importance of “Looking unto Jesus…” What is important for Christians, he emphasized, in order to not waver or fail in their profession of faith, is to keep our spiritual gaze on Jesus Christ.
According to W. E. Vines, “Looking” means to “look away from so as to see another; to concentrate the gaze upon.”
Here is the rub—-too many of the church become Christian failures in terms of falling to faithlessness because they are swept off their profession of faith in Jesus Christ by the problems, distractions, weaknesses, and tensions of living through the rigors of life. You cannot remain steady for the Lord if you are too easily discouraged or distracted.
But, if we are to ever bring the Lord honor and glory in our lives on a consistent basis, it will always be the result of our constant spiritual gaze on Him. However, the real question and concern has to do with that involves. What does “Looking unto Him” involve?
It is really quite simple when we consistently consider the proven basics. For example, we look to Him for inspiration and encouragement. After all, He modeled faithfulness to the T when He walked every inch of the Calvary Road, bled every drop of Calvary blood, and endured every moment of Calvary pain. He never once wavered from it!
Looking unto the principles of God’s Word is important, too, because the Word is so helpful. Most every one feels like quitting at times, but the Word of God helps us to stay on track. It gives us instruction. It gives us information. It gives us encouragement. Read the Book!
Going to church is a means of “Looking.” Fellowship with other Christians is a means of “Looking.” If we are “Looking” rightly, we do not become so distracted or mesmerized by the rushing and raging of life around us.
“Keep your eye on that Sassafras tree.”
Pastor Ron Branch lives in Mason County and is pastor of Hope Baptist Church, Middleport, Ohio.