Near sunset two friends set up easels on the beach. They prepared paints and brushes and waited for the light and color show of the sun setting over the water. The first friend began to paint hurriedly. Grabbing the colors as they appeared and working to get them just right. The other friend just held her brush and watched. Soon the second friend barked, “For heaven’s sake, look up! You’re missing it.” The first friend continued to paint and then proudly turned her canvas and said, “I got it.” The second friend muttered under her breath, “I don’t think so.”

Last week I was hurriedly grabbing colors from the world of motherhood and ministry and slapping them onto canvas. I wanted to accomplish my tasks and mark them off the ever present, ever growing “to do” list. One evening I was reading Robert Wicks’ Simple Changes, and his words caught my attention. “How practical is it to run as fast as you can without taking time to lift up your head and see where you are going?” Since I’d been running blindly for a while, I decided to assess the lay of the land.

I looked up and realized the Christian church is moving into Lent. We’ve walked the journey of new life in Advent, new hope in Jesus’ ministry, and now we’re moving toward the cross. I was struck by how many times the gospels note that “Jesus turned his head toward Jerusalem” or that Jesus reminds his disciples that there will come a time when he will no longer be with them. In the midst of the healing, teaching, and developing disciples, Jesus got his head up and looked for the next part of his ministry. Rather than become trapped in the present, Jesus had a sense of moving into the future.

Often our Lenten disciplines focus on sacrifice. We give something up so that we may embrace the suffering and sacrifice of Jesus. However, what if we looked up this Lent? What if we questioned, “Is this the right place of ministry for me? Are my skills being used? Am I banging my head against a brick wall? Am I being called to a different place of service?” You may look up and find yourself surrounded by beauty. Or you may wonder, “How did I get here? This wasn’t what I had planned.”

Either way Lent is a great time to emulate Jesus’ pattern of looking up to see what comes next and where God is leading us.

Tammy Abee Blom is an ordained Baptist minister, mother of two amazing daughters, and lives in Columbia, South Carolina.