The eyes and the heart

The sunrise through the eyes:

As you sit on your front porch you see a soft orb levitating above the mountains. The sky above is light gray and becomes a muted orange and pale blue as it nears the horizon line. White clouds are scattered all around. There is enough light to bring detail to the trees and separate them from each other. The grass is wet with dew. You take a sip of hot coffee.

The sunrise through the eyes of the heart:

Beauty! Soft, piercing beauty. Orange and blue run together, moving in and out of each other as they drive away the drab gray of pre-dawn. Wispy white clouds fill the sky, lit up from beneath like a hundred little campfires against a hundred chalky cliffs. The trees begin to take shape as the shadows sharpen. The grass sparkles with refracted light. The smell of your coffee breaks the spell—how long have you been sitting here?!—and you are comforted by the familiar taste as you consider how “the heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky above proclaims his handiwork,” and you try to figure out what it means that you get to participate in such beauty and glory.

The eyes see facts, the heart sees truth.

Luke tells a story in chapter twenty-four of his gospel that illustrates this well. Two of Jesus’ followers were making a sad, seven-mile walk from Jerusalem to Emmaus. Sad because their hope that Jesus was the one to redeem Israel was crushed when they saw him crucified. They were moping along discussing the facts when Jesus plays the most remarkable practical joke in history on them. He pulls his hood down low and begins to walk with them and asks them why they are sad. Their eyes are kept from recognizing him, and they explain the facts behind their dejection. Jesus then leads them in what I assume is the best bible study ever—pointing out the truth behind the facts of the Scriptures. He shows them the truth, that suffering was always the plan, and that the redeemer's suffering would lead to glory.

We find out later that during this bible study with the risen, hidden, Jesus their hearts were already beginning to see: “did not our hearts burn within us while he talked to us on the road, while he opened to us the Scriptures?” (Luke 24:32) Finally, when he leads them in a communion meal, their eyes are opened and the truth that their hearts saw and the facts that their eyes saw connected and they saw him…just in time for him to vanish from their sight!

I think Paul had this in mind when he wrote of his continual prayer that his friends in Ephesus would have “the eyes of your hearts enlightened, that you may know the hope to which he has called you…” (Eph 1:18). How do we know the hope we have in Him? How do we know the immeasurable greatness of his power toward us? How do we know Him?

Must we, like his disciple Thomas, see with our eyes the facts of his nail-marked hands and sword-pierced side (John 20:25)? Or can we be those, “who have not seen and yet have believed,” (John 20:29) and are called blessed?

Eyes see facts, hearts see truth. May God flood our hearts with light that we may see and know the risen Jesus; that we may recognize Him walking alongside us. And may we become people who aim the truth of the gospel at the hearts of our neighbors as we introduce them to Him.