Seeing with the Eyes of the Heart
How do you perceive God’s wisdom and revelation?
When Presbyterian pastor and author Frederick Buechner was in his 70s, he wrote a memoir about his life and his connections to family members and friends. He recounted painful events such as the suicide of his father, and reflected on the complexity of his relationship with his mother. This honest and open-hearted memoir was titled The Eyes of the Heart: A Memoir of the Lost and Found.
Although we know that the physical human heart does not actually possess a pair of eyes, we instinctually understand the meaning of this phrase. When we “see with the eyes of the heart,” we perceive the existence of important but invisible qualities: Honesty, love, faith, hope, and compassion. If we look at a neighbor and say that she is “a good person,” we are using these internal eyes. And because such vision is required in order to see God’s work in the world, a popular contemporary Christian song is titled “Open the Eyes of My Heart.”
Writing to the followers of Christ in Ephesus, the apostle Paul said, “I pray that the eyes of your heart will have enough light to see what is the hope of God’s call, what is the richness of God’s glorious inheritance among believers, and what is the overwhelming greatness of God’s power that is working among us believers” (Ephesians 1:18-19). Paul knew that when the Ephesians looked around them, their external eyes saw the power of the Roman Empire and the wealth of a prosperous seaport city. He prayed that they would use their internal eyes to perceive something even more impressive: The call, inheritance, and power of God.
Paul knew that the Ephesians needed help in order to see these qualities, so he wrote, “I pray that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, will give you a spirit of wisdom and revelation that makes God known to you” (verse 17). Such wisdom is not attached to any Greek philosophy, but is connected to the wisdom of God that was present in the creation of the world (Proverbs 8:30). The spirit of revelation is needed if the Ephesians are to see clearly that God was revealed in the person of Jesus Christ — the one who makes God known to us (John 1:14).
Like the people of Ephesus, we need to open the eyes of our heart and look for what God is doing around us. When we do, we will see wise people acting in life-giving ways, showing justice and righteousness in their dealings with others. We will see God revealed to us in Christ-like men and women who live with honesty, love, faith, hope, and compassion. A spirit of wisdom and revelation is available to us today, but it cannot be found in the sights and sounds of the world. Instead, it comes when we open our hearts to faithful people around us.
Open the eyes of my heart, God, and show me your wisdom and revelation. Amen.