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The Rev. Susan Sparks The Rev. Susan Sparks
The Rev. Susan Sparks is a former trial lawyer who now serves as senior pastor of Madison Avenue Baptist Church in New York, NY.

Member of:

American Baptist Churches USA

Representative of:

Madison Avenue Baptist Church, New York, NY

Looking God in the Eye

March 23, 2011


Have you ever had this happen?  You are at a cocktail party and the person you are trying to converse with is continually scanning the crowd over your shoulder.   It is so irritating when someone won't make eye contact.   You feel disconnected, angry, dismissed.

Of course the converse is true as well.  One of the best feelings is when someone looks you in the eye and makes a meaningful connection.  It is then the moment becomes personal; it's then our defenses drop, and the intimacy and honesty levels go up. 

Sadly, human beings tend more toward the cocktail party behavior.  It's the classic rule of body language:  when we are hiding something or are feeling insecure, bored or angry, we pull away and retract our gaze.  Why?  Because you can't hide when you look someone in the eye.  As the old saying goes, "the eyes are the window to the soul." 

In this Lenten season, the question came to me:  how might our spiritual lives be affected if we looked God in the eye?

To look God in the eye means to stand honest and vulnerable; to be willing to open up, willing to make it personal, willing to allow God to peer into the windows of our souls.

While it may sound a bit intimidating, it's really not so hard.  If God is the great creator of the universe as it says in Genesis, then God's eyes can be found everywhere we look.   Perhaps it's something as obvious as the recent full moon.  Or maybe the eyes of God are found in the eyes of those we love, in the eyes of a stranger or even deep within our own heart.

If we truly looked God in the eye, perhaps we might engage nature in a more spiritual way; giving thanks for the beauty we encounter every day. 

Or maybe we would take time to truly listen to a loved one, affirming them through the gift of being present.   

Rather than turning away from unpleasant images in the newspaper or television, perhaps we would make more of an effort to look the stranger in the eye -- feel their pain, empathize with their situation.   

And if we searched for God's eyes in our own heart, maybe we would be more honest in acknowledging our own shortcomings, struggles, and fears. 

Like the sun emerging after one of our many winter storms, God's gaze can bring warmth and a quickening to our hearts.  As it is written in Jeremiah 24:7:  I will give them a heart to know that I am the LORD; and they shall be my people and I will be their God, for they shall return to me with their whole heart.

During this Lenten season, try looking God in the eye.  When we open up the windows of our soul, God looks upon us, God knows us, and through that intimate and honest connection, we are healed.


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