My kids are 6, 4, and 2 years old, so there’s rarely a dull moment around our house. Between princess dolls, footballs, bikes and scooters, or trips through the sprinklers, they’re always doing something.
As a father, in addition to joining them in whatever full throttle activity they are engaged in, I really enjoy the moments where they slow down and offer me their undivided attention. I delight in looking deep into their wondrous blue eyes or counting the freckles on Avery’s nose. Quality face-to-face time is good for this dad’s heart.
These moments don’t just happen, so I’ve had to get creative. That’s why one of the new games around our house is a simple stare-off.
They always responds to a challenge or competition, so I tell them the first one to smile or blink loses. It’s always good for at least five seconds of heaven on earth.
The joy in my heart wells up every time their little eyes peer into mine. I can’t help but think it’s just a taste of the joy our Heavenly Father experiences when he’s afforded quality time with us—His children. If words can’t adequately describe my love for Avery, Sophie, and Owen, and yet God’s love for me is infinitely greater, then how great is our Father’s love towards us? Just how passionate is He about spending time with us? We’re often busy and running at a similar pace as my young kids; meanwhile, God invites us to slow down and enjoy face-to-face time with Him.
I’m convinced that God wants to be engaged in this authentic and genuine manner. This is why Jesus endured the brutality of Roman crucifixion, to offer us the gift of true intimacy with God. He wants us to open our spiritual eyes and behold His beauty. He wants us to seek His face.
“One thing I ask from the Lord,
this only do I seek:
that I may dwell in the house of the Lord
all the days of my life,
to gaze on the beauty of the Lord
and to seek him in his temple.” (Psalm 27:4)
“When You said, ‘Seek My face,’ my heart said to You,
‘Your face, O Lord, I shall seek.'”(Psalm 27:8)
A.W. Tozer labeled this the “gaze of the soul.” He writes, “When we lift our inward eyes to gaze upon God we are sure to meet friendly eyes gazing back at us, for it is written that the eyes of the Lord run to and fro throughout all the earth. The sweet language of experience is ‘Thou God seest me’ (Genesis 16:13). When the eyes of the soul looking out meet the eyes of God looking in, heaven has begun right here on this earth.” (The Pursuit of God, p. 85-86)
This is exactly what we are invited to do on a daily basis. Beholding God with our inward eyes isn’t something that is exclusively reserved for morning devotions or Sunday morning services. We can fix the gaze of our soul upon Him at any moment of any day. He is always near and ready to meet our eyes with His.
Tozer explains, “At first this may be difficult, but it becomes easier as we look steadily at His wondrous person, quietly and without strain. Distractions may hinder, but once the heart is committed to Him, after each brief excursion away from Him, the attention will return again and rest upon Him like a wandering bird coming back to its window.” (The Pursuit of God, p. 84)
We’ll never fully escape the distractions of this age, but it’s true that the more we fix our eyes on Him, the more we’ll desire to behold Him. His presence will captivate and fascinate, leaving us to see the “glamorous” things of the world for what they truly are.
We can begin to move in this direction today. There’s nothing stopping us from shifting our gaze upon Him today—in this very moment. Lock eyes with Him and seek His face, then move even closer and experience His embrace.
Which is precisely what Owen did in the middle of our stare-off.
Heaven on earth.