Just over four years ago, a group of friends both encouraged and challenged me to begin a ministry based on my writing and work with men. I decided to listen to their voices because, in them, I distinctly felt God’s calling upon my life. But the jump from a safe and secure teaching job into the unknowns of a start-up felt like a jump out of an airplane. I was assured that the parachute would open, but there were many times when I felt this free fall would end in disaster. Perhaps I felt it most keenly in the anxiety attacks that began to haunt me during the first couple of years. The attacks ranged in intensity from the distressing to the debilitating. There were many causes—financial peril, emotional turbulence, and spiritual confusion—but I'll never forget the surprising solution.It was all in the eyes.
During one of those anxious days, I went to have coffee with an older man who had been such an encouragement to me. When we greeted each other, he put both hands on my shoulders, looked into my eyes, and said, "It's so good to see you." My eyes continued to lock in on his at moments, as we talked about our lives. He shared some of his present concerns, as did I. But somewhere during the conversation, I became aware that my anxiety was lessening, and by end of our time, it had just vaporized. Instead of anxiety, I felt a calm and a peace that completely surprised me. But later, as I thought about it, I realized what had happened. My friend had loved and heard me.It was all in his eyes.
Feeling heard and loved by others is so critical to our emotional health as men, but this experience is also woven into the fabric of the gospel. In fact, it's the whole point of the gospel. The older theologians called it the Beatific Vision. Paul spoke of it this way: "But now He has reconciled you by Christ's physical body through death to present you holy in His sight, without blemish and free from accusation" (Col. 1:22). There it is—in God's sight, in His eyes, we are perfectly holy. There is nothing left to separate us from His love. We are His beloved sons, perfect and cleared from all charges. In that love we are sustained, guided, nourished, and comforted, but most of all we are known and heard. This is not just one gift among others that God gives us through the death and resurrection of His Son. It is the gift—the gift of Himself.
One day, our eyes will fully see His eyes of love for us, but for now we can all start to glimpse that experience. We can enter prayer knowing that we are heard and walk through the day aware that His eyes are upon us. We can approach Jesus in our minds and imaginations, seeing Him seeing us and allow ourselves to "waste time" in His presence, enjoying His enjoyment of us as His brothers. This posture is not just the remedy for anxiety, fear, and loneliness, but for something far greater: it is the answer to the aching disconnection in the human soul. Ultimately, we all long for union with God. To be seen and loved in His eyes moves us gently, yet tenaciously, toward that union.
It truly is all in the eyes—His eyes.
Bill Delvaux is a graduate of Duke University and Trinity Evangelical Divinity School and has served as a pastor and a high school Bible teacher. Presently, he leads Landmark Journey Ministries as a speaker, small group coach, and author of Divided: When the Head and Heart Don’t Agree and Landmarks: Turning Points on Your Journey Toward God. Bill also serves as content editor for Stand Firm, LifeWay's devotional magazine for men. He and his wife have two grown daughters and reside in Franklin, TN. Follow Bill on Twitter @BillDelvaux.