At our recent retreat in the greater Chicago area, Letty took a walk around the lake with a couple of her new friends. One of the friends, Sybill, made an observation, “Do you notice that as we look over this beautiful landscape that we have a choice? We can either take a glimpse of it then move on without thinking any more about it. Or we can stop and GAZE.” So they took that moment to stop and gaze at the wonder of God’s creation: the lake, the trees, the leaves, the branches, the squirrels romping around. It totally expanded their understanding of what was going on all around them. As well, it opened up the window to see the “enchantment” of God’s handiwork.
I think our default in life is “glimpsing.” We notice things around us just enough to inform us of what we need. We glimpse at people in line to checkout at the supermarket just long enough to see which line is the shortest. We glimpse at the lyrics of the worship song on the screen at church just long enough so that we sing the right words. We glimpse at our family at dinner time just long enough to make sure everyone is there, eating their vegetables, and behaving well. The problem is that in our glimpsing, we miss on the larger “enchantment” of life. There are people in that checkout line, each with a story to tell, a heart ache they are bearing, a glory yet to be uncovered. There is meaning in the worship song/hymn lyrics, a profound spiritual and life giving truth, a testimony to God’s greatness put to a heart-felt melody. There is a beauty to a family that gathers together; an opportunity to deepen relationships, share needs, give an encouragement, to live life together.
In our Personal Worship Times, do we glimpse at God when we trudge through Scriptures, prayers and spiritual disciplines – trying to find that quick spiritual fix? Or do we take time to gaze intently into the Word, to be present before our holy God in loving adoration and attentiveness? It is amazing to see what happens in those times when we slow down enough to take a gaze.
Gazing opens up our hearts to the reality of God in our midst. Gazing gives us hope and peace. Gazing leads to opportunities for love. At times we wonder where God is, why He doesn’t answer our prayers, and why He seems so absent in a world that is so lost and confused. Those are hard questions, no doubt. But could it be that some of these issues come closer to resolution if we take time to gaze? We might find that God is not as absent as we think. But our thinking (and our believing) is very much shaped by our seeing.
Like Jacob in Genesis 28:16 who exclaimed, “Surely the presence of the LORD is in this place and I was not aware of it,” let us open our eyes and gaze on the reality of God in our midst.