Publication:Pastoral Letter, September 2019
Dear Friend in Christ:
I hope you’ve had a wonderful Summer. I want to talk this month about eyes; our eyes, others’ eyes, and even God’s eyes. We all know that eyes give sight, but they also do much more that is vital. I want to give some thoughts about that as we prepare for a new season.
Eyes communicate with our bodies in many ways and give us perspective, a sense of security, danger, affection, or rejection. They tell us more than our consciousness often records. Our family has a very intelligent Yellow Labrador dog named Sparty. Dogs study their owners and often, they study our eyes. When I look in a direction, Sparty usually does too. He seems to know when I am happy or not and responds accordingly. I am sure that he takes other factors into account such as voice or movement, but he continually looks at my eyes. He knows if I am serious or just playing with him. His eyes are focused.
So it is with other animals and certainly with human beings. Remember the saying, “The eyes are windows of the soul”? We say more with our eyes than we realize. Whether we realize it or not, consciously or not, people read our eyes. Our eyes project light, energy, mood, and other matters. Have you ever looked at someone who had been looking in some other direction or even conversing with someone and suddenly they turned to look at you? They responded to an invisible energy that came from your eyes. Your eyes communicated. When eyes communicate, they also direct.
I once read wise advice from a race car driver, “Don’t look at the wall; you will run into it.” The driver was explaining that our bodies follow our eyes. Turn your eyes, turn your head and adjust your position. I was recently driving in Dallas, Texas, which has numerous very high overpasses. I am not fond of heights, let alone driving high in the air. As I was driving up the incline, I recalled the race car driver’s advice, “Don’t look at the wall.” So I focused on the lane ahead not the walks on either side of my lane or the height, and felt peace; no weaving or uncertainty.
So where we look, our bodies will respond subconsciously. Remember that story of Abraham’s nephew, Lot? Genesis 19:28 says, “Lot looked toward Sodom.” Soon, he was in Sodom and suffered the consequences. If we continue looking, the body will follow the eyes. That is why distraction can be deadly.
Many serious accidents and fatalities are the result of distraction from cell phones, food, conversation, or other issues. Lot is not alone in distraction. I receive letters from men in prison who had a God-given purpose but became distracted by some alluring idea, passion, person and suffered the consequence. Sometimes it cost them their lives.
I have attention deficit disorder—I’m easily distracted. I have to fight the tendency to be distracted by even minor issues. I start to do something and then think of something else to do. For me, focus is a fight! I pray that A.D.D. is only mental and not spiritual, though I think that many of us suffer from a form of “spiritual A.D.D.” We began to do the will of God, then think of something else. The enemy always offers that “something else.”
We live in a world of distractions! We have 24-hour news, political confusion, hundreds of channels at our disposal, and a cacophony of sounds. Voices come from everywhere into our lives, not to mention the pressure of many responsibilities and incessant demands. “I don’t have time!” is a familiar refrain and focus is a fight for all of us. And, if you go out to eat at a restaurant, there is loud music to “aid your digestion.”
Eyes Aid Balance
Balance is better when our eyes are open. I try not to close my eyes when I am in the shower because sight gives perspective and helps my equilibrium. A lot of people fall in the shower and that is one of the leading causes of accidental death.
In a similar way, when we keep our eyes open in life, we are more likely to avoid danger or foolish missteps. We all have probably witnessed an individual crossing a street while on their cell phone. When eyes are closed or distracted, we are oblivious to the dangers around us. Sight gives perspective and balance. If we are going to close our eyes or be distracted, at least have a guide dog, but probably not in the shower!
Having sight is a blessing, but knowing where to focus matters a lot! In Matthew 6:22, Jesus said, “If the eye is single, the whole body will be full of light.” Some translators interpret, “A good eye is full of light.” Another interprets, “A healthy eye is full of light.” In any case, what we look at will produce a result.
In Matthew 4:4 Jesus said man “lives by every Word that proceeds from the mouth of the Father.” In John 6:60-71, we are told that Jesus gave a hard saying and many disciples left. Jesus turned to the twelve and asked, “Do you want to go away also?” Peter answered, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of life…” (see verse 68). In spite of things they did not understand, they stayed focused on what Jesus had to say. We do well to follow their example.
Do not allow things that you do not understand to cause you to focus elsewhere. If we follow on to know, we will know what we need to know. As the old hymn says, “We will understand it better by and by” (written by Charles Tindley). Staying focused upon Jesus brings life, faith, and understanding.
There is another song that says “Open the eyes of my heart, Lord, I want to see you” (written by Paul Baloche and recorded by Michael W. Smith). In Second Kings 6:17-20, the Lord opened the eyes of Elisha’s servant to see what Elisha saw, and the servant saw that the heavens (mountain) were full of horses and chariots of fire that surrounded them. If we look to the Lord, He is our eye-opener to see what we did not see with natural eyes. If we are to see the whole picture, we must look to Jesus. The natural picture is incomplete and misleading.
Hebrews 12:2 is equally clear and directive as the previous story, “Looking unto Jesus the founder and perfector of our faith, Who for the joy that was set before Him, endured the Cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the Throne of God.” We are to look to Him, but He is also looking at us.
God has eyes; He is not blind. Second Chronicles 16:9 tells us that God is looking for someone whose heart is completely toward Him. He searches our hearts (see Jeremiah 17:10). Given that we were created in His image, we have eyes, and so does He. Certainly His eyes see infinitely more than ours! We see but He sees into and beyond, and He is looking for a person whose inner motivation is to serve Him.
Psalm 32:8 says “He will guide us with His eye.” Of course, we cannot yet look into His eyes, but we can look where He is looking. The Holy Spirit is focused where God is focused. So, when the Holy Spirit leads, that is where God is looking.
Servants look to the overseer’s eyes and respond to “eye direction.” A less sensitive servant will receive verbal instruction. A rebellious servant will be guided by his hand. It is much better to be guided by his eye. Even my dog knows that…sometimes.
One of the most famous Gospel hymns is “His Eye is on the Sparrow” (by Civilla Martin and Charles Gabriel). This hymn is based upon Matthew 6:26 and Matthew 10:29. God watches even the birds and knows even the number of hairs on our heads. This gives us an amazing clue as to the acuteness of God’s vision.
Zechariah 2:8 declares that Israel is the “Apple of His Eye.” The Lord says that whoever touches Israel will be plundered. We should remember what happened to Rome, Germany, and other nations that mistreated the land and people of Israel. What God favors we should favor. How much more will the Lord regard “The Apple of His Eye” than the sparrows?
When Jesus saw and chose His disciples, He saw more than His natural eyes saw. Nathaniel asked Jesus, “How do you know me?” Jesus answered, “I saw you standing under the fig tree.” Nathaniel was amazed! Jesus did not simply see his appearance, He saw Nathaniel’s heart because Jesus had said, “Behold an Israelite in whom is no deceit!” (see John 1:43-50 NEV). Apparently, open and honest hearts are rare, but God looks for them.
Proverbs 4 is a wonderful chapter. Verse 23 is the first principle, “Keep your heart with all diligence, for from it flows the springs of life.” Verse 25 speaks directly to this letter, “Let your eyes look directly forward, and your gaze be straight before you.” The aforementioned race car driver was saying the same thing when he said, “Don’t look at the wall.” The eyes guide the head and body.
The way of Jesus is straight not crooked (see Matthew 7:14). Hebrews 12:12-13 tells us to make straight paths, so how do we do that? We do that by looking straight ahead and not looking around or down. My friend Ern Baxter is with the Lord but I recall a story that he told many years ago:
“There was a bicycle riding contest and one challenge was to ride the bicycle over a plank. Only one boy made it all the way to the ends of the plank. When he was asked how he was able to do that he said, “The others looked down, or at the wheel, but I looked at the end of ** the plank.”
The boy looked straight ahead. That is what the race car driver was saying, but more importantly, it is what our Lord says!
I pray that we can accomplish God’s purpose by keeping a heart focused upon Him, by looking straight ahead, and moving in the direction of our calling. Don’t be distracted by the noise, what others have to say about it, or by the difficulties. As the Apostle Paul would say, “Fight the good fight and finish the race.”
During September, would you please remember us in your prayers and in your giving? We have much ahead of us in ministry, and we face some significant challenges financially. Our ministry opportunities and needs did not take a Summer vacation, but we’ve had a very lean season in terms of ministry income. Your friendship and support have meant so much to us, and will mean so much moving forward. Thanks for standing with us!
We are keeping you in our prayers also as you seek His will and strength in days ahead!
Brother Charles Simpson
P.S. If this letter blesses you, would you pass it on? And would you please remember CSM in your prayers and in your giving this month as we sow the Gospel seed around the world? We face significant opportunities and opposition. Thanks for standing with us!
scripture references:Genesis 19:28; Matthew 6:22; John 6:60-71; John 1:43-50; 2 Kings 6:17-20; Hebrews 12:2; 2 Chronicles 16:9; Jeremiah 17:10; Matthew 4:4; Proverbs 4:23; Matthew 7:14; Hebrews 12:12-13; Psalm 32:8; Matthew 6:26; Matthew 10:29; Zechariah 2:8