A couple of years ago, I found myself stuck in the “baby zone” of an airplane. Next to me sat a mother with an infant in her arms and a toddler in the seat alongside her. In front of me was another mother with a babe in arms. I must confess to feeling a bit of dread as I took my seat in the nursery of this Delta MD-88. Would my entire flight be accompanied by the incessant howling of babies who were frightened by the droning of engines and pained by pressure in their ears?
Yes, I did hear some yelping. But both mothers did a fine job quickly supplying bottles for their babies, who were soon peaceful. I couldn’t help but to watch one of the babies as she took her bottle. She was absolutely entranced by her mother, staring fixedly into her mother’s calming eyes. This baby was drawing comfort from her mother’s gaze, feeling safe, reassured, and loved.
This image of intimacy flashed in my memory as I first read Psalm 123. The psalm, one of the so-called “Songs of Ascent” for pilgrims traveling to Jerusalem, begins with the psalmist’s admission: “I lift my eyes to you, O God, enthroned in heaven” (123:1). Yet this is not just a momentary glance: “We keep looking to the LORD our God for his mercy, just as servants keep their eyes on their master, as a slave girl watches her mistress for the slightest signal” (123:2). Or as a baby stares without ceasing into the eyes of her mother.
When we find ourselves in unfamiliar or uncomfortable circumstances, when we are frightened and helpless, we too will be reassured when we keep our gaze focused upon the Lord. Though we cannot see him in the flesh, we can see him with the eyes of faith as the Spirit of God makes him known to us. Reflecting on Scripture helps us to look into the eyes of Christ, as does praying and gathering with his people. By keeping our focus upon God and not our problems, we will receive his peace and find confidence to live for him each day.
QUESTIONS FOR FURTHER REFLECTION: What helps you to fix your gaze upon the Lord when you are uncertain or fearful? How does God give you his peace?
PRAYER: O Lord, even as a baby gazes into the loving eyes of her mother, so may I gaze upon you. May I know your presence, peace, and mercy. May I live my life in the safety of your vision.
Thank you, dear Lord, for making yourself known to me. How I long for the day when I will see you, not dimly, as in a clouded mirror, but face to face. Amen.