Turn your eyes upon Jesus…
Look full in His wonderful face.
And the things of earth will grow strangely dim
In the light of His glory and grace.
Helen H. Lemmel
I remember the feelings of being a new bride. Beyond the wedding plans and honeymoon, making a home of our own and being together was one of our most anticipated pleasures. We lived in two different cities and endured a yearlong long-distance engagement. The phone was a dismal replacement for being able to look into my fiance’s beautiful, clear hazel eyes as we talked.
One of my favorite wedding photos is of us sitting on the stairs after the ceremony simply gazing into each other’s eyes. I was similarly captured by the above photo of the two doves as I searched for the perfect picture for this post. When its gaze is fixed upon its mate, the dove is not distracted by activities around it. It has been given the instinctive ability to fix its gaze on the one it loves; thus the “love bird.”
Some thirty-eight years later, we still gaze into each other’s eyes. Sometimes, though, it’s not as comfortable as it was in the beginning because of thirty-eight years of life lived together. We know each other – and what we are capable of – much more intimately, and that brings with it a transparency behind which we cannot easily hide. The quote that says “the eyes are the windows of the soul” comes to mind. Moving from shadowed eyes to the single eye of a dove requires access to one’s heart.
In our own marriage that began with vows to be established in Christ, we have had to learn to cultivate “doves’ eyes,” both toward the Lord and each other in ever-deepening ways. That cultivation has spanned innumerable lessons over many years. Some exceedingly painful, others joy-filled and satisfying. Even now, our earthly marriage serves to reveal to us the spiritual significance of the Song of Songs; namely, the process of making ready the Bride of Christ.
The Beloved coming to make her home under His shadow, as described in the previous two posts, summons the picture of coming to rest under the shade of a well-established grapevine. When leafed out, its foliage is thick, providing cooling shade from the heat of the day and sweet-tasting fruit.
Jesus says of Himself in John 15:1 – “I am the true (truthful, not concealing) vine…” planted by His Father.
As believers having entered into Christ’s salvation, we have come under His shadow. We have been cleansed by His blood and our sin taken away. This is both wonderful and necessary to be grafted in to the Vine and the family of God. Yet, beloved and chosen as we are, this is only the beginning.
If we choose to simply remain under His shadow, like two people living together but never coming to know each other…we can live out our days as a believer without ever gazing into the unconcealed eyes of our Beloved.
To study something to the point of knowing it means we choose to narrow our interests so our time and energy can be spent on that which we want to know. “If you would know Jesus, study the vine,”* means we must forego the shadow and turn our eyes upon His reality.
When the Bridegroom exclaimed in Songs 1:15, “Behold, you are beautiful! Behold you are beautiful; your eyes as doves’,” He was referencing a quality He saw within His Bride. It was another vital element on His blueprint for her, for “dove’s eyes” speak of a single, focused eye. Because doves have no side vision, they gaze straight ahead when not fixed on their mate.
Many a marriage has been ripped apart for the lack of “dove’s eyes.” Thankfully, many a marriage has been restored because “dove’s eyes” can be cultivated if both so choose.
The Bridegroom’s heart aches for those of His betrothed who lack “dove’s eyes.” It is why He wept over Jerusalem then (Luke 19:41), saying, “If you had known in this day, even you, the things which make for peace! But now they have been hidden from your eyes.” (vs 42) As believers on this side of the Cross, we do know the things which make for peace. We are not without grace, but we are without excuse.
Let us bear in mind that this call of the Bridegroom encompasses male and female, married or single, widowed or never-married, young, old, or in between. Chronological years have far less to do with this journey of the heart than does the amount of access we give Him to our heart.
The Bridegroom, who possesses the eye of the Dove, looks for those upon whom His favor can rest.
When He sees one with “dove’s eyes” turned toward Him, His attention is fixed, His gaze steady. Though it be a searching gaze, as the heart is responsive toward Him, He is pleased to lead further this one who no longer responds according to their own desires, but has become responsive to Him alone.
It takes time spent with the Lord to cultivate eyes as doves’. Conceptions and ideas about Him are but shadows of understanding. His Holy Spirit, with dove’s eyes, has been given to open our eyes to see Him and our hearts to respond to Him. His face is wonderful. Turn your eyes upon Jesus…
Shammahs Field LLC/Shammah Ministries is the biblical counseling, life coaching, and spiritual growth ministry entrusted to Wayne & Nancy Bentz. You can learn more about the resources they have to offer at www.shammahsfield.com.