In my Bible reading this week some lines from Job really jumped out at me: “What is man, that you make so much of him, and that you set your heart on him…you watcher of mankind?” (Job 7:17, 20 ESV) In the context Job was actually complaining, wishing God wouldn’t look so closely at him, and would be pleased to let him die; he was miserable. This got me to noticing other passages that refer to God watching mankind. They’re everywhere, from beginning to end. In the Garden, He spotted Adam and Eve hiding in their shame. And in Revelation Jesus is depicted with ‘eyes like a fiery flame’ (Rev.1:13-14)
Nothing escapes His notice…
No creature is hidden from him, but all things are naked and exposed to the eyes of him to whom we must give an account.Heb.4:13 CSB
Then all the churches will know that I am the one who examines minds and hearts, and I will give to each of you according to your works.Rev.2:23 CSB
As one who has alwayed struggled with self-consciousness and people-pleasing these passages are a little uncomfortable. I still feel, for instance, the intimidation I felt as a young teen Candy-striping at a big hospital. I must have volunteered to please my mom; she thought it a great opportunity. But I hated being in the public eye, and those elevator rides up and down and those long hallways going to and fro with mail and lab samples–Shudder! This was not for me! My experience lasted only as long as it took me to get the nerve up to disappoint my Mom and to get myself to the Head Office and quit! But that sense of being ‘watched’ still dogs my steps some days when I’m out and about.
I care too much what people think of me (despite my mom’s long-imbedded quip: “Who cares what thinkle peop?!”) despite my perceptive husband’s reminder that the whole thing is a delusion which assumes others even notice me, when likely most of them are thinking of themselves, not me! But shaking this has been a matter of prayer lately and in the Word this week I see this hopeful truth– God is watching, and His is the only watchful eye that counts! For there is a world of difference between being critically surveilled based on appearances and being protectively watched over by One who has your best interests at heart. That difference is in the eye and the heart of the Beholder.
“For the eyes of the LORD roam throughout the earth to show himself strong for those who are wholeheartedly devoted to him.II Chron.16:9 CSB
Though I may look at others with snap judgments, measuring them up based on my own insecurities, as though the comparison could somehow boost my own ego…God does not see this way. His assessment isn’t based on any agenda other than my good for His Glory. The two are inseparable. He is unruffled by appearances but cares crucially about my heart. And even there He doesn’t look in order to shame, but in order to bring to light, in order that I can be freed to walk in that light with an eye only to pleasing Him.
Someone has coined the phrase ‘an audience of one’. This One in whom ‘we live and move and have our being’ is the only One whose opinion of us ultimately matters.
I am my Father’s dearly loved child. He watches over me to do me good. To protect, to correct, to direct, to perfect, all on His loving timetable. He is the guardian of my soul.
For you were like sheep going astray, but you have now returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls.I Pet.2:25 CSB
How vast is this difference between being watched and being watched over!
Because our God is both omniscient and all-loving we can trust Him with our hearts. We can pour them out before Him. We can request that He search them and show to us what we most need to see, and the truth to counter it! And we can walk with confidence knowing that He will accomplish His transforming work in us.
The LORD will fulfill his purpose for me; your steadfast love, O LORD, endures forever. Do not forsake the work of your hands.Ps.138:8 ESV
Search me, O God, and know my heart! Try me and know my thoughts! And see if there be any grievous way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting!Ps.139:23-24 ESV
If you’ve come by and shared this counseling session with me, I thank you and hope that you too have been encouraged to look to an Audience of One and find there a radiant smile. Oh how He cares for us.