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The Gaze of God

“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." When the eyes of the soul looking out meet the eyes of God looking in, heaven has begun right here on this earth.” A.W. Tozer

“A sobering truth about life in leadership is that we can be very busy and look very important, yet be out of touch with that place in the center of our being where we know who we are in God. When this happens, we are at the mercy of all manner of external and internal forces, tossed and turned by others’ expectations and our own inner compulsions. This inner emptiness then becomes the source of frenetic activity that is un-tethered from any kind of grounded-ness in God. This is a scary place for a leader to be.” Ruth Haley Barton

It seems that much of my life has been a tug of war between doing and being. The quote above by Ruth described me well. For many years, my work has centered around helping people grow and enjoy God. My efforts produced roadmaps and tools for this to happen, yet many days I would feel cheated because the freedom I offered others was not happening in me. I began to realize that my spiritual formation was centered around the subtle pressure to “grow the kingdom” at the expense of my own soul’s happiness and peace. God, in His love, saw my inner longings and struggle and re-directed my journey, much like He did Moses.

I see myself in Moses when I see my immature responses to life’s hurts and injustices. Yet God takes the initiative and seeks Moses out, moving him to the desert and connecting him deeper and deeper to the source of Love.

Here, Moses and God begin to trust each other and grow a friendship that transforms the world, ultimately gazing upon one another as “face to face”. The affection and love Moses receives gives him the inner security and freedom he always longed for, all the while providing the outer freedom that the Israelites eventually experienced. Moses models a relationship between spirituality and social engagement that reveals God’s nature as a Lover who interacts with our deepest self, drawing from within as well as pushing from without. His intimate encounters with God were the basis of his strength and courage. It always happens this way! Inner freedom first, outer freedom follows.

This is a truth that has completely altered my days----Contemplation informs action. Taking a long, loving look at the real as Walter Burghardt defines contemplation, and feeling God’s gaze grounds my service. The stillness and solitude I make space for first of all heals me so that I better reach out and serve without hurting myself or others.

Have you experienced the gaze of God recently? “For He has set his tender gaze upon me.” Luke 1:48

Maybe this summer will be a good time to practice this prayer –

Imagine God gazing down on you and ask yourself how He feels. So often in our attempts to find God’s presence around us we fail to realize that God is seeking us: ‘For the Son of Man came to seek out and to save the lost.’ Instead of trying to feel God’s presence, let God feel your presence. Imagine what it might look like from God’s perspective as God brings you into God’s mind, feels your presence, and gains awareness of what you are feeling.

Let this loving gaze reveal to you God’s desire to be with you, that your feelings matter, and that God not only wants to know about your day but wants to experience it with you. This is compassionate love. Knowing that we are deeply loved by God—even sought out in compassion—is one of the greatest soul-healing realizations we can have.” (Andy Otto, Ignatian Prayer)

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