Focus – To see and be seen

by Amy Reardon, Captain – 

Major Ben Markham told me about the day he saw the well-known actor Cuba Gooding, Jr. Ben lives in Spokane, Washington, and Cuba was shooting a movie at a popular park there. What impressed Ben was that as people began to gather and stare, Cuba looked up and made eye contact with them. It must have given those fans a thrill to have him look right at them and smile.

Isn’t it fun to have someone famous look you in the eye? It’s one thing to see a celebrity, but it’s a whole different thing to have him see you. Once, I was in a room with Ronald Reagan and he grinned and winked at me. I absolutely melted to the floor. I couldn’t get over the fact that a president of the United States actually looked right at me—straight into my eyes. When someone looks you in the eye, you are acknowledged. He can’t look at you without thinking about you. His thought might be something as shallow as “What a hideous shirt,” or something a little more meaningful, like “She has kind eyes.” Whatever the case, you realize that the looker is aware of your existence. He knows, at least for that moment, that you’re on the planet.

Not too long ago, I had the opportunity to meet a famous Christian leader. I truly respect this man, and I was very excited about greeting him and telling him my name. I was in a long receiving line, and this man was shaking hand after hand. But when it came my turn, he didn’t even look at me. He took my hand, but his eyes were already cast on the next person in line. In the stream of people, my face had been passed over. I was so hurt! Of course, he didn’t mean to hurt my feelings, but, silly as it sounds, it was quite a blow. I anticipated connecting with my hero, but he never even saw me. I remained a nonentity to him.

I often think about the day that I will see Jesus. As excited as I am to lay my eyes on him, I think I’m even more excited about the fact that he will look at me. I know that he thinks about each of his children all the time. But it will be amazing to see him looking at me, to be acknowledged by him face to face. I think about all the angels and all the saints bowing before him and I know that, somehow, he will care enough to look at each one of us. We will not just be a sea of worshipers. We will know and be known. We will see and be seen.

But sometimes, in this life, it is difficult to keep focused on Christ precisely because we can’t see him. We know the stories of his time of earth, but we don’t have a face to put to them. When we pray, we talk to someone we’ve never seen or heard or touched. It isn’t always easy. Christ can seem remote, or even unreal.

I find myself helped by the chorus that says:

“Turn your eyes upon Jesus
Look full in his wonderful face
And the things of earth will grow strangely dim
In the light of his glory and grace.”

It is impossible to turn your physical eyes upon Jesus, and actually look into his face. So, the song must be about something else. And we understand what that is. Turn the eyes of your heart upon Jesus. Focus on him. Concentrate. He wants us to acknowledge who he is, to drink him in. There may be reasons why a person doesn’t want to “look full in his wonderful face”—like shame, or insubordination. But in his eyes are forgiveness, peace, healing, and wholeness. The answer to any problem can be found when looking full into that face.

I spent a number of weeks visiting with a Jehovah’s Witness who came to my door. She believed that “you can have paradise here on earth.” According to her church’s doctrine, there is only enough room in heaven for the initial 144,000 converts, and the rest of the believers will have eternal paradise on a restored earth. None of this was new to me, until she revealed that this meant that those who didn’t go to heaven would never lay eyes on God. They would never physically see him, throughout all of eternity. I’m not sure if that is what her church teaches, or if that was just Diane’s understanding. But I told her that wasn’t enough for me. I have to see my Savior. She seemed to think that was disrespectful and childish. I certainly didn’t mean to offend that kind and committed lady. But I don’t know what I’d do if I didn’t have the hope that some day I will see him. I will be with him.

For now, only the eyes of my heart can see him. But even those eyes know that he is lovely. What’s more, I know that he can see me, in every sense of the word. And his eyes are full of love.

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