We have entered a new era unfamiliar to us all. We are greeted by family, friends and strangers wearing masks everywhere we go. Some masks are like my own, a dull and unremarkable: black, white or gray. Others, like my wife’s, are bright and cheerful. Her mask is decorated with little birds. The designs and decorations are unlimited. But all of them have one thing in common. They hide our faces. We cannot determine if someone is smiling, frowning, sneering or simply dead-pan. We cannot read lips. A significant percentage of our normal public face-to-face communication has been stolen.
My wife and I were watching an old black-and-white Gary Cooper movie the other night. When the villain suddenly pulled up his bandana to mask his face we were struck with how familiar he looked. Once upon a time, meeting a masked stranger on the street might create shivers of suspicion and fear. But, today, it is normal, expected, even required.
But one facial feature remains: the eyes. Even with masks, the eyes communicate. They seldom, if ever, lie. They portray innocence, beauty and wonder; the sparkle of imagination, compassion and love. They can also convey anger, fear, suspicion, even deceit. Our music recognizes this fact: The Eagles’ Lyin’ Eyes, Willie Nelson’s Blue Eyes Cryin’ in the Rain, Van Morrison’s Brown Eyed Girl, and the Beatle’s Close Your Eyes and I’ll Kiss You, to name a few.
Our eyes are the window of the soul. Whatever we choose to see, to read, to watch on TV or the internet floods our soul with images that enlighten, inspire, encourage or corrupt. Perhaps that is what Jesus meant when He said, “The eye is the lamp of the body. If your eye is healthy your whole body is full of light.” The eyes not only fill the soul, they also reflect the soul. Our secret thoughts, the things within our heart are often reflected in our eyes.
One of the great treasures of the human experience is to find favor in the eyes of another, as when a groom lifts the veil and looks on the face of his bride. Or when a mother beholds the face of her newborn child. The eyes can bestow unimaginable and unforgettable blessings. With the eyes we can bless, and we can be blessed by another.
Most important of all is how we are seen by God. The Bible says, “Your eyes saw my unformed body; all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be” (Psalm 139:16). “The Lord looks down from heaven on all mankind to see if there are any who understand, any who seek God” (Psalm 14:2). And again, “The Lord does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart” (1 Samuel 16:7).
The Bible tells of a young man who came to Jesus wanting to go to heaven. In response “Jesus looked on him and loved him” (Mark 10). Unfortunately, the young man turned away and missed his opportunity because he loved wealth more than he loved God. I have always loved the old song, “Turn your eyes upon Jesus. Look full in his wonderful face, and things of earth will grow strangely dim, in the light of his glory and grace.” What are we choosing to see with our eyes? Whose eyes do we seek?