“Keep me as the apple of your eye; hide me in the shadow of your wings” -Psalm 17:8
My dear grandchildren,
I love you, you know that! But Someone loved you before me or your mom and dad loved you. I want you to know this more than anything else I want you to know. That Someone has the name, God. Never forget that name! Never forget that God loved you before you were even born, He loved you before the world was even created! Isn’t that amazing?
There’s only three letters to describe the God who created the oceans, mountains, skies, and the ground we play together on, He made it all! You know how much I like elephants and birds? I know how much you like your dogs and cats. Well, God was so fascinated by the idea of elephants, birds, dogs, cats, even bugs that when He imagined them, they became what you and I can see. He imagined flowers and trees, mountains and lakes; everything we see when we are taking walks. Do you remember when I told you that Great Grandma’s favorite flower was Black-Eyed Susans? God created them for her to enjoy looking at. And there are the fig trees that I climbed when I was a child like you. God created those trees knowing that someday I would spend a lot of time in those trees by our home in South Africa. He declared everything and every place he made: “good.”
God loved himself so much that He imagined humans that would love Him, too. He simply spoke a word, and a man and a woman were created just like Him. They looked like He would look if He put flesh on. When He looked at them he declared them “very good.” And He created them to look at Him and know that He is very good.
He loved looking at them so much that they were the apple of His eye; now that’s a funny way to put it? Do you know where that phrase came from? The Sacred Scripture tells us God will keep us as the “apple of his eye” and protect us in the shadow of His wings. It literally means, I will keep you as the “little man of my eye.” What do you suppose God is trying to tell you about yourself when He refers to you as the apple of his eye? “Keep me as the apple of your eye” means he has the tiny reflection of you in the iris of His eyes. I wonder what color of eyes God has? Maybe they’re brown, green and blue all at once. No matter how dark a room is He sees into your eyes and you can see into his eyes! Doesn’t that amaze you? God is telling you that his eyes are fixed on you, that your “little person” is reflected in His eyes! It’s hard to imagine that God, who I cannot see, always sees me. Not only that, he is beholding me, that means he stares at us. Why? He created us very good! Don’t you like to spend time staring at things that you’ve created?
I’m getting ahead of myself in what I want to tell you about about being the apple of God’s eye.
First things, first. Here is where we must begin. When God created the first man and woman He enjoyed being with them, He never took his eyes off of them because they were so beautiful to Him. And they never took their eyes off of Him because they loved what they saw reflected in His eyes. Everything was perfect. But one day something happened, the man and woman took their eyes off of God, they stopped staring at Him because something else caught their eye. God saw them look away and He longed for them to keep their eyes on Him so that He could see Himself reflected in their eyes. He knew what was happening, He knew it before it even happened because he knows everything. He had given them the freedom to look at anything they wanted to if they chose to. But He never took His eyes off of them. He waited, and He waited, and He waited for them to look back into His eyes.
It’s such a strange thing to realize, but the man and woman had decided to stare into an ugly Serpent’s eye, and what they saw there seemed more beautiful than what they saw when they looked into God’s eyes. They really wanted what they saw. God had not wanted them to stare into the Serpent’s eye? He loved them so much that he wanted them to look into His eyes forever because He knew that the they would see themselves just like He created them–perfect, beautiful, and very good. He knew that if the man and woman kept gazing at Him, they would be able to see Him looking back at them with His beautiful eyes filled with perfect love for them. He also knew that if the man and woman gazed at Him, life would be perfect.
What do you perfect looked like? Here are some hints, you like to receive it, you like to give it, you like to unwrap it, and you are always surprised by it. You are right; your eye would see all gift, like Christmas every moment! But you couldn’t grab them out of his arms. These gifts would be so valuable that only God could hold them out to you for you to receive them. These gifts would hang on a tree that only God could grow and they would be so delicious to eat! They would feel as beautiful as they looked and they would taste like nothing you can imagine. The gifts were fruit and they had names: faith, hope, love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, and gentleness. He knew that if the man and woman kept looking into His eyes, they would be happy.
After a while, the Sacred Scripture tells us, that the man and the woman heard the sound of the Lord God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, but instead of joining Him for a walk, the man and women hid themselves from the presence of the Lord God among the trees of the garden. Why would they hide from their Creator? What had changed when they stopped looking into God’s eyes and started staring at the serpent’s eye?
Everything changed when the man and woman took their eyes off of God, they began to forget God. Something else had changed, the man and the woman started to forget what they looked like. When they bent over the stream in the beautiful garden to get a drink, they didn’t recognize who was looking back at them. When they looked into the eyes of each other, they couldn’t remember who they were. Isn’t that a strange turn of events? When they heard the voice of God, they had forgotten what His voice sounded like, too. They hid from Him because they had forgotten that they were in God’s garden! “Where are you?”, God called. They came out of their hiding place and they felt a feeling they never had felt before–fear. Do you know that when you feel afraid that God didn’t give you fear? When the man and woman stared into the serpent’s he gave them fear. I know that God would never give a gift like fear because it’s not a gift at all.
When the man and woman looked into God’s eyes, right there in the apple of His eye they could almost see what they used to look like before they took their gaze off of Him, before they began forgetting Him. God knows everything and he sees everything, so why did He ask, “Where are you?” He could see them plain as day. You know why I suppose He asked them where they were at? They were lost and they were afraid and they didn’t trust God anymore. He knew that when they first took their eyes off of Him they would always doubt His love for them because they couldn’t see the gift in His eyes anymore. But God didn’t give up or walk away or get so angry with them that He would never look at them again. He had a plan, and in spite of what the man and woman had chosen to do, He would keep His eyes on them because He never stopped loving them.
God’s plan was to bring everyone after that first man and woman back to the garden where everything was perfect. He knew it would take awhile, but that didn’t matter, what mattered is that He would keep looking into the eyes of the people He created and wait for them to begin looking back into His eyes. The plan included asking questions, even though he knows everything. The plan included revealing the rest of His 3-lettered name they first learned.
He has never, ever, stopped gazing into everyone’s eyes. That’s a lot of people! Do you know why He keeps looking into our eyes, because He can see the beauty that He created in us. He loves us so much that He will keep asking questions like “Where are you?” because He is always waiting for us to stop hiding from Him, He’s waiting for us to choose to only look into His eyes.
There are others like the first man and woman that the Sacred Scripture tells us about who wouldn’t look into God’s eyes for the same reason–what the serpent gave to the first man and woman he gave to all the people who were born after them: too much fear, too much anger, too much pride! Then came others who didn’t even know that God was looking into their eyes, they had too much fear, anger and pride, too. Let me tell you about the next question God asked another man. His name was Cain. He was the son of the first man and woman.
*See post, To My Grandchildren: “What Have You Done?”