Most of us can’t bear the deep penetrating look of love.
Recently, a colleague and psychologist invited an audience to turn to the person beside them and simply look intently at them for 30 seconds—eye to eye, no glancing away. Within moments, the room popped with nervous laughter and chatter. Few, if any of us, could do it. Eyes flickered up and down, side to side. Suddenly the rafters and the walls held peculiar interest! We all tried to avoid the tension that such intensity created.
Interestingly, babies do just fine. They won’t break the gaze. If a parent looks longingly and lovingly at a baby and speaks soothingly, it will eventually break into a smile. But it rarely breaks the gaze. That’s usually left to the parent.
It seems that the older we get the less comfortable we feel with such intimacy. Sin, self-consciousness, shame, guilt, and fear make the rafters and the walls strangely appealing. And this has profound spiritual implications.
When did you last stop and make serious “eye contact” with Jesus?
We hastily highlight the distractions we face. We point to the chaos of our lives, and excuse our lack of intimacy with Christ on the grounds that we’re exhausted, stressed, or too busy. Too often we write off a close walk with the Lord on the basis of “life stuff.”
In reality, we are deeply uncomfortable with the gaze of God. We dare not stop and lock eyes with Him, because the older that we get, the more unnerving we find such intensity.
But unless we receive the love and affirmation of the Father, we find ourselves bouncing from pillar to post—never settled; never secure. Truth be told, our avoidance of His Presence is less a function of the clock than a function of our hearts.
And our nervous laughter and chatter—our insistence on the safety of superficiality—simply exacerbates the spiritual distance we experience.
Babies do it well. Can we?
Can we hold His gaze for a few minutes today? Just long enough to truly receive those life-giving words: “You are my son, my daughter, whom I love dearly and take great delight in.” Perhaps it will bring a smile to us, too.