COLUMN: With the eyes of the heart

Published 12:37 pm Monday, May 20, 2024

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It is not lost on me that this past Sunday (May 12) was Mother’s Day. In fact, as you read this, we are having a countdown of sorts at our house. My Mother, all ninety-five years of her, is coming up for a visit and will be staying a few days with us. 

She is the only remaining parent we have. We are tuning everything up, making sure the house is presentable. Making sure we have it ready for hospitality. 

Some years on that day, I preach more of a Mother’s Day-themed message. On the corresponding day, a month later, a Father’s Day message. But not every year. This is one of those years where I stuck with the sermon series we are currently in. 

However, if you or I have been fortunate enough to have had a positive relationship with our earthly Mother, and if we paint with broad enough strokes, it’s not too much of a stretch that the particular phrase I have honed in on in Ephesians 1: 15-23 is a commendable quality. One that we might find more readily in women than in men. 

When I prepare to preach or teach, I try to always begin by reading the biblical scripture text that is assigned. Specifically, I read looking to see if there are any of three things in the text that jump out at me. 

If there is something about the text that really gives me energy, I may explore that. If there is a question or a problem to be solved as a result of what the text has said, then they might be the crux of what I choose to do. 

There’s no one way to preach or teach most any biblical text. There is no one best or right response. For the preacher, with the guidance of the Holy Spirit, there is the way we may choose to go in that moment. A year later, or a month later, we might go with a completely different emphasis. 

This time, a phrase jumped out from this scripture that would not stop speaking. Here it is. “…so that, with the eyes of your heart enlightened, you may perceive what is the hope to which he has called you.”

That way of seeing is so dramatically different from the way the believers at Ephesus were used to viewing their world. For us today, it is just as contrary to the ways we are taught to see, know and understand our world. There are all too few realms that encourage and reward seeing with the eyes of our hearts.

I don’t know about you. But I need to see with the eyes of my heart more often than I probably do. To stand any chance of understanding God, we probably need to engage the eyes of our hearts now and then. Because God views us as children, through the eyes of God’s heart.

To stand any chance of understanding God, we probably need to engage the eyes of our hearts now and then. Because that is how the God of Creation arrived at a Christ Covenant in the first place. No kind of God, except a God who could see with the eyes of an enormous heart, could have grace to extend to you or to me. 

To stand any chance of understanding the work God has sent us to do, the holy and serious calling that is placed upon each of our lives, we’ll need to put aside our more serious ways of seeing. We’ll need less reliance on the more rational ways of seeing, the more encultured ways of seeing, and use the eyes of our hearts now and then. 

Else, we’ll keep on overruling the God of Creation and just do things our own ways. Else we’ll just keep on seeing other people, people who aren’t quite just like us, in the ways we’ve always seen them instead of the ways God might see them. 

From his elevated position on this side of his Resurrection, Jesus looks at us. He looks at us through the eyes of his heart. He doesn’t see what you or I see. Thank goodness. But he loves profoundly who and what he sees with his heart. 

Because Jesus sees a people when he looks at us through the eyes of his heart. A people who are Children of God. A people full of possibility, if we submit to the resources that he would like to have flow down upon us.

Dr. Charles Qualls is senior pastor at Franklin Baptist Church. Contact him at 757-562-5135.