In the crowded rooms in which our lives unfold, we may seek anonymity in the crowd, or we may long for a friendly glance from someone. Sometimes a stare from another person makes us supremely uncomfortable, perhaps even drives us to question what sort of odd expression or gesture we may have unconsciously made to attract attention. Sometimes, even from a stranger, a smile or nod may set our minds at rest without really our being able to explain why. There are times when anonymity is a welcome escape from confrontations or conversations we are seeking to avoid. There are also times when, like everyone else, we need a place to go where everyone knows our name. Amid the crowded rooms of daily life, we crave, in the words of Robert Frost, for some place where, when we have no place else to go, they must take us in. As often as we avoid eye contact, we also know well how we need eye contact and more throughout our lives. For God did not create us to be alone, not within the communities of people around us, and not in relationship to Himself.
God comes into the crowded rooms of our lives looking for us. He seeks us out and desires to give us more than a friendly smile or an understanding look. He seeks us out to embrace us and converse with us. When Adam and Eve broke their relationship with Him by doubting His Word and defying His lordship, He did not turn His back on Eden. He did not let humanity perish at the hand of these two doubters and defiers. He went looking for them. He cried out, “Where are you?” The sorrow and disappointment, the anguish and desperation, of His Edenic voice echo throughout the centuries as He repeatedly poses the question presented to Israel, “Why has this people turned away in perpetual backsliding?” Jesus expressed this pain when He said, “Jerusalem, Jerusalem, ...how often have I desired to gather your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you did not want to be gathered to Me!” (Matthew 23:37). He was gazing at Jerusalem, and Jerusalem refused to lift its eyes to Him.
God’s watchfulness extends over all the earth and to all its inhabitants. “The eyes of the Lord are in every place. They keep watch over the evil and the good” (Proverbs 15:3). God reminded Samuel that the prophet should listen to Him in anointing a successor to Saul. For He was looking at outward appearances while God Himself was scrutinizing the inner thoughts of the candidates for king (1 Samuel 16:7). There are, indeed, times in life when the idea that God is watching me scares me. We sense what He has seen, and we know He is not pleased. He examines our lives with His telescope when we run far from Him, and He scrutinizes the most hidden of our sins with His microscope which plumbs to the depths of our being. He sees more of us than we see of ourselves. We feel the fire in His eyes when we turn our backs on Him. Our eyes look down to avoid the wrathful regard for us when we are conscious of having offended our Creator and Lord. His glance which poses the question, “How could you betray Me?” cuts to the quick and sears our souls.
We simply cannot imagine that, even in anger, He is seeking to make eye contact and ear contact with us, to express His desire to reconcile us to Himself and enfold us in His arms. For His telescope and His microscope were constructed at the cross that grasped Jesus Christ so tightly He died and at the tomb that could not hold Him because He was bound for life. There Jesus absorbed the Father’s fury against those who have run from His sight, and His death and resurrection have transformed the Creator’s way of perceiving and regarding us. He sees us now as new creatures (2 Corinthians 5:17). His view of us, as He peers into our lives through the lens of an empty cross and empty tomb, establishes our identity as His chosen children. Both cross and tomb remind us our divine Savior really died and has truly come back from death, so that our sins are eradicated in the sight of the inspector general who is our God.
Both cross and tomb remind us our divine Savior really died and has truly come back from death, so that our sins are eradicated in the sight of the inspector general who is our God.
God keeps careful watch over His world and, above all, His chosen people. The watchful eye of the Lord does more than observe. Passages which are sometimes translated with the word “keep” instead of “watch over” (e.g., Psalm 121:7-8) remind us God’s eye-hand coordination never fails. His watchfulness spreads His protective hand over His children. He watches over us as He watches over the sparrows, and He checks out how many hairs are left on our heads (Matthew 10:29-31). He regards us as the apple of His eye, the pupil as the most precious part of the eye, and as He promised at Zechariah’s time, He will protect us and send His wrath on our foes because He sees us as His precious people (Zechariah 2:8; Psalm 17:8; Deuteronomy 32:10). He keeps His eye on us as He guides and counsels us (Psalm 32:8). We have no need for seeking human commendation and praise for the good things we do, for our heavenly Father dishes out His personal thanks for our taking care of those in need around us (Matthew 6:4).
We seek eye contact with God by plunging into His Word. For He becomes visible in His Word which addresses first our ear and then gives rise to visual images of His hand at work among us. Prayer is also a part of our meeting God face-to-face as well as mouth-to-ear. Prayer is the instrument He has given to enable us to smile back at Him, to seek His aid for ourselves and others, to find His direction for returning to the crowded rooms of life in order to bring His glance—sometimes of disapproval, but in the end, we hope of approval and acceptance—to others. At times we are not certain our prayer has gotten through to Him since He seems silent, without any reaction. Especially when we think He is neither looking in our direction nor prepared to speak with us, we can remember He has always had us in view. He will not lose us out of His sight. As frightening as that might seem at times, when we are conscious of our rebelling and straying from His household, we can always rest assured He is watching. He watched over Peter in prison (Acts 12:1-11), as He watched over Paul and Silas in the dungeon (Acts 16:16-40). He found Jonah in the fish’s belly (Jonah 2). He finds us and keeps watch over us in our tribulations and trials just as He never lost Joseph from His view.
So, even when we have been convinced He has lost sight of us, we will find that while some may have intended evil for us, God meant it for good (Genesis 50:20). In that confidence we can bask in the gaze of our Lord as He sees us through the lens of the cross and the empty tomb.