Keeping the window to the soul clean and clear
by Deacon Christine Maddux
Although you have just started reading this column, please pause for a moment to ponder the wonder of your eyes. As the gateway to the precious gift of sight, they not only open the door to this informative newspaper, they also admit countless other visitors into your brain. Take another pause to consider every item within your sight, right where you are. Is everything you see a welcome, worthy visitor to your brain? How about to your soul?
You have probably heard that “The eyes are the window to the soul”, meaning that looking into someone’s eyes gives insight into their interior life. But the Bible reminds us that the window glass is two-way; much of what you see in someone’s eyes came in through that window, too.
Interestingly, the “window to the soul” metaphor echoes something Jesus said: “The eye is the lamp of the body. So, if your eye is healthy, your whole body will be full of light, but if your eye is bad, your whole body will be full of darkness” (Matthew 6:22-23). How do we keep our eyes healthy and thereby illuminate our whole body? By consciously looking only at worthy sights, most especially Jesus, the self-proclaimed Light of the World (John 8:12); and by deliberately closing our “windows” to influences of darkness. The Bible is rich with teaching about both strategies.
We see it espoused by King David in the Psalms: “My eyes are ever on the Lord, for only he will release my feet from the snare” (Psalm 25:15); “I will not set before my eyes anything that is worthless” (Psalm 101:3). This is valuable wisdom from a man who had learned firsthand just how much misery can stem from unguarded eyes (2 Samuel 11).
Another psalmist knew the wisdom of directing his eyes upward in times of need, writing words that still ring true across the plateau today: “I lift up my eyes to the hills. From where does my help come? My help comes from the Lord, who made heaven and earth” (Psalm 121:1). There are many other people in the Bible who, once they lifted their eyes up to God, could see what amazing things He had in store. They include Abraham, Hagar, Isaac, Rebekah, Jacob, Esau, Joseph, Balaam, Moses, David, Isaiah, Ezekiel, Jeremiah, Nebuchadnezzar, Daniel, Zechariah, Peter, James and John. Jesus, too, directed his eyes up toward his Father and away from the darkness that threatened, including the night before He was crucified, when He offered his impassioned prayer for Himself and his followers (John 17).
We can learn much about turning our eyes toward the divine Light by paying attention to all the times the word “Behold!” appears in the Bible (in the classic translations, e.g., the English Standard Version) — more than one thousand times. To “behold” does not mean to cast a casual glance, but “to see with attention, especially to observe someone or something of remarkable or impressive nature” (Oxford English Dictionary). “Behold” was spoken by God, the Someone of supremely impressive nature, in the first and last books of the Bible and many times in between. If we open the windows of our souls to “behold!” what God calls to our attention we will be filled more and more with his Light, dispelling the darkness within and without.
Please see my next column for more about beholding and becoming. In the meantime, let’s be wise about our eyes, and hold onto this simple prayer: “Turn my eyes from looking at worthless things; and give me life in your ways” (Psalm 119:37).
The Rev. Christine Maddux serves as a Deacon at Christ Anglican Church in Cashiers, and lives in Sapphire. Contact her at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Originally published in the Crossroads Chronicle, October 9, 2019.