Sometimes when I drive across the Naval Academy Bridge, I have to will myself to steer my eyes toward the taillights in front of me. The glistening water to my right and the drifting sailboats headed east in slow freedom plead for my attention.
An almost magnetic force freezes the gazes of a bride and groom as they look adoringly into one another’s eyes.
While engrossed in a gripping novel, looking away from the pages of my vice and engaging with whomever just walked into the room is like prying myself out of bed at an unhealthy hour.
It seems that the ability to focus on something with our eyes is one of the easiest things in the world to do, with one important stipulation—we must be wildly interested in the object of our attention. When our interest in something is less than passionate, our visual attention to that object wanders.
In his essay, “The Gaze of the Soul,” A.W. Tozer describes faith as “the gaze of the soul upon a saving God.” Drawing upon biblical references to looking and believing, he contends that these two actions are identical in the spiritual life. Paul has a similar understanding of the activity of faith. His exhortation to “Fix your eyes on Jesus,” (Hebrews 12:2) comes immediately after a long and thorough demonstration of the faith of early believers. Readers of Hebrews 11 might throw up their hands in despair and question how and if they could ever exercise such bold faith. Paul’s response is simple: in order to believe, look at Jesus with the eyes of your heart.
And in order to look, and look closely, adoringly and continuously at Jesus, our affection for him must increase.
Often our attempts to increase our faith remain nothing more than vague efforts to believe more, trust more. While these are honorable goals, they often leave us wondering, “But how?” What if the means to increasing our faith were actually fixing our attention on the astounding compassion of God or his unfathomable wisdom? What if we sought to really and truly know the character of the most fascinating and worthy one? Falling in love with him more will certainly require persistence, for his great depths aren’t always as instantly gratifying or apparent as a 6:00 sky painted yellow, orange and purple. But what if our love for him increased so much that when someone broke our heart, or we totaled our car or lost our job, we just couldn’t steal our attention away from him long enough to doubt his control and concern?
We can’t gaze at God intently without loving him first. And we can’t love him without knowing him. Faith begins with knowledge and then follows with love that can’t take its eyes off the beloved.
And this is the faith that will boldly declare, “I know whom I have believed, and am convinced that he is able to guard what I have entrusted to him for that day.” II Timothy 1:12
How do you know others?
What increases your affection for them?
Might this pertain to Jesus, as well?
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