Let your eyes look straight ahead;
fix your gaze directly before you. — Proverbs 4:25
The best way to climb a mountain is by looking straight ahead. Look down, and we might be frightened as we notice our height and contemplate the danger we are in. Look behind, and we will be blind to the obstacles or safest routes ahead of us. Look up, and we may be daunted as we are confronted with how far we still need to go. It can make our climb feel hopeless and cause us to give up.
The best way to climb even the tallest mountain is to simply look straight ahead and focus on taking one step at a time.
In Proverbs we read, “Let your eyes look straight ahead; fix your gaze directly before you.” In life, too, it is helpful to fix our gaze on what is right in front of us. Of course there are times when we need to look at the bigger picture so that we can adjust our direction, but most days it’s helpful to focus on the present.
If we focus on the past, we can get stuck. We can get bogged down by our past mistakes or hurts. If we focus too much on the future we can become intimidated as we contemplate how much we need to accomplish or worry about how things will work out. Overly focusing our attention on what is behind us, under us, or way ahead of us can leave us confused and disoriented in the present. It’s best to stay in the moment and live our lives one day at a time, trusting God for His unlimited mercy — day by glorious day.
The original Hebrew reveals another layer of depth to this verse. Literally translated the verse reads: “Let your eyes look straight ahead, and your eyelids will straighten you path.” What does this mean?
Our eyelids give us the ability to close our eyes – to not look at something. What we look at is powerful, and so even when we focus on the present, we have to carefully choose where to look.
Do we see the good in the people in our lives, or do we see just their negative traits? Do we see God’s goodness in our lives, or do we see only what we lack? Do we see the opportunities that lie before us, or do we focus only on the challenges?
Every day we have the choice to decide on what we will focus. Look away from the things that bring you down. Look away from other people’s faults. Turn away from what might lead you to sin. Instead, choose to see good and to see God in everything and everyone, today and every day.
With prayers for shalom, peace,
Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein
Founder and President