Living in God’s Gaze
Several years ago I had the opportunity to speak in England. Of course my family and I had to visit some of the obligatory tourist attractions, including stopping for tea at Windsor Castle. It was an impressive display, although I’d hate to have to pay their heating bill! As we were nearing the end of our visit, my daughter Carrie noticed that a line was forming outside one of the gates. Of course the lines back at that time were not nearly as long because Kate Middleton had not yet made an appearance into the royal family. Nevertheless, we scurried to find a place along the road. Sure enough, the gate opened and several expensive looking vehicles proceeded on their way to Ascot. To our delight, in the back of one of those vehicles was Queen Elizabeth II. Suddenly she turned her gaze toward Carrie and me, and waved. Before we could visit, however, her driver whisked her away and down the lane. I’ll never know what she might have said to me, if only we’d had more time. All I have was that brief, momentary gaze.
It’s funny how people treasure even casual glances from celebrities. Perhaps it fulfills a major need in humans to be noticed, especially by someone in a more prominent position than our own. Of course there could be no greater instance of this than when almighty God chooses to set His holy gaze upon a solitary creature of dust. That’s why the priests of Israel were instructed to pray this blessing upon the people:
“The Lord bless you and keep you;
The Lord make His face to shine upon you,
And be gracious to you;
The Lord lift up His countenance upon you,
And give you peace.” (Numbers 6:24-26)
Of course, when the priests prayed for God to shine His face upon someone, it was not because they believed God was distracted or unaware of what the people were doing. The truth is, God is fully aware of us, at all times. However, when God chooses to “shine” His face upon someone, it is to bless them. To have God look upon your life in this manner is to experience peace.
Conversely, throughout Scripture, God condemned people for committing evil in His sight (Judges 6:1). The truth is, the only place we can do evil is in His sight! God made it clear through Scripture that when we commit sin, God’s gaze toward us is for judgment, not blessing. When we sin, God turns His gaze away from us, and we experience separation from Him (Isaiah 1:15). However, God loves His people and desires for them to be the “apple of His eye” (Deuteronomy 32:10). What a blessed thought!
There is a profound difference between living your life experiencing God’s pleasure on your life and living without it. Cain and Abel were the first humans to experience this contrast. God was pleased with Abel’s gift. Abel lived with God’s pleasure upon him. God was not pleased with Cain. This caused Cain to become distraught and to envy his brother. Yet, rather than adjusting his life so he, too, could experience God’s pleasure, Cain attempted to remove the painful comparison by eliminating his brother. This has long been the history of the interaction between the blessed and the unblessed. Similarly, Jacob desired the blessing that belonged to his brother Esau. He needed to learn that you cannot manipulate or determine God’s pleasure on your life. You can only strive to live a life that is pleasing to God.
I have known people who clearly enjoyed God’s loving gaze upon them. They lived blessed lives. They were not exempt from pain or suffering, but God lovingly and peacefully guided them through it. I have also known others who were determined to live their lives on their own terms regardless of how much it offended God. As a result, their life was a continual struggle. Feelings of peace were elusive. No matter how hard they tried, God refused to place His hand of blessing upon them.
While I am as eager to live a blessed life as the next person, I became particularly concerned about God’s blessing once I had children. I dreaded the thought of my children growing up in a home that was starved for God’s favor. I did not want them to grow up in a spiritual wilderness. I believe that is why many children who grow up in Christian homes depart from the faith when they become adults. They are nurtured in a spiritual wasteland and as a result, the Christian faith holds no allure for them.
Recently I have had three grandchildren born into my family. Now, more than ever, I desire God’s blessing upon my life. I pray that when God gazes upon my life, He is pleased to bless me, and all those I love.
What does God see when He gazes upon your life? Does what He find prompt Him to grant you blessing and peace?
Written by Dr. Richard Blackaby