If you’ve ever studied the human eye, you know that it is complex and absolutely fascinating. It’s also a well-known fact that we humans are incredibly visually oriented. We LOVE looking at the world around us! This isn’t a bad thing, it’s just how we’re wired. Most of us (when we’re awake) are constantly looking at some-thing somewhere. We look at art. We look at nature. We look through a camera. We look at our kids. We look at our phones and social media. And most of us naturally turn our eyes to the loudest thing demanding our attention at any given moment. The result of this instinct is that as we mature, if we don’t learn how to set intentional goals of where to look and why, our eyes will wander toward the shiniest object in the room, simply by default.
I teach piano lessons, and for 14 years now, I’ve had a front row seat in the learning process of countless budding musicians as they sharpen valuable life skills such as focus, coordination, and the power of perseverance – not to mention achieving big goals of being able to play amazing music whenever they want to. One of the things all new students struggle with is learning how to read music and knowing where to look.
Being around pianos every day for my job, I can recognize that they’re really a beautiful instrument. The clean lines and sharp contrast of the black and white keys invite us to come touch them, and the colorful melodies that sing from within can be mesmerizing. It’s no wonder that my students find themselves watching their hands as they learn to play music. We want to see the action! (and those beautiful keys.)
But there’s a problem with too much of this – when reading music, most of the information the student needs is actually on the page of a book right in front of them. When they take their eyes off the page for too long, they actually disconnect from the source of information telling their fingers where to go next. I often explain to them that it’s like riding a bike or driving a car – if they stare down at their hands, they’ll actually miss out on where they’re going and probably crash!
We all need to practice the skill of keeping our eyes fixed ahead on what’s most important and trust the rest to take care of itself. In fact, where we look is so important, that in Psalm 33:18, David makes a point of telling us where God’s eyes are looking:
… the eyes of the LORD are on those who fear Him, on those whose hope is in His loving devotion. (BSB)
God, the maker of heaven and earth, the one who made everything, could choose to look absolutely anywhere! His creations are beautiful, delightful, and endless. So where then, in all of creation does He choose to look? David says “the eyes of the Lord are on those who fear Him.” His eyes are on us. His beloved children.
Think back on a moment in your life, big or small, when you felt seen by someone. Maybe someone caught your eye from across a room and smiled at you. Maybe there was a surprise party by your friends or coworkers for your birthday or a promotion. Maybe you felt truly seen on your wedding day. Or maybe you are the one doing the looking, stealing glimpses of your children when they’re playing or sleeping, your heart overflowing with love towards them. Our eyes are windows into connection with the world around us, but especially with the ones we love most.
What a simple yet profound concept to be seen by God. YOU are what He wants to look at! He looks at you whether you have your makeup on or not. He looks at you on your best days, and also on your worst days – when you’re crying, and when you feel like a failure. He sees it all, and He still chooses to look on you with love and hold you close.
When we begin to understand how much He truly loves us and sees every hair on our heads, we can relax and lean into His unshakable love and kindness. We don’t have to perform to earn his attention – we already have it! Being seen and loved by God provides us with the space we need to breathe, to release anxious thoughts, and to trust in His power to care for us. It is in this space that we find hope. You can lean into that space anytime, even right now, by closing your eyes, taking a deep breath, and imagining God’s eyes looking at you with loving kindness. Spend as much time here as you need.
The truth we need to remember is that where we fix our gaze is a choice. Have you stopped to consider lately where you are looking? Where is your gaze fixed, both mentally and physically? Are you looking back into God’s kind eyes? Or are you constantly judging others and looking at them for comparison to determine your own value? Are you focused on worry, fear of the future, and negative thoughts? Are you looking to your bank account daily to define your sense of worth or security?
We all experience these temptations because we’re human (I know I do!) Where we spend the most time looking can give us a glimpse into our hearts and what we deem is important. But wherever you’re looking today, the good news is that we always have a choice, each day, to redirect our gaze.
Let’s practice turning our gaze back to the Lord, whose eyes are already on us; and just like a piano student learning to read music, we can train ourselves to look up and ahead, following God’s example by fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith (Hebrews 12:2) and our source of hope and direction for today and everyday.