“See me, Mommy! See me!” my youngest daughter hollered from the top of the slide on that long-ago summer’s day.
I smiled at her singsong plea and waved my arms in acknowledgment as she launched her slender frame down the slanted chute.
Meeting her at the bottom of the slide with a hug, I then followed my little girl across the playground to the faded blue swingset.
“See me, Mommy! See me!” she begged again as she pumped her spindly legs up and down with a giggle.
This little giggler wasn’t the first preschooler to solicit my eyes as she explored the world around her. Four children before her had invited my gaze, but their pleas had been wrapped in a different phrase.
“Watch me, Mommy! Watch me!” my first four had demanded when they’d sought applause for their accomplishments or acknowledgment for their efforts.
“Watch me, Mommy! Watch me!” they’d cried as they dangled from monkey bars and somersaulted across the grass, hopped on one foot or danced in the kitchen.
At the time, I didn’t consider my youngest one’s plea to be any different than the cry of the siblings who had come before her. But looking back now, I believe my daughter’s unusual word choice was more than a matter of mere linguistics. It was the cry of her fifth-born heart.
Planted in a house swelling with big brothers and sisters, our littlest girl was used to being watched; she wanted to be seen. The difference may seem slight, but it’s significant. To watch requires our eyes, but to see engages our heart.
God makes this distinction clear when He sends the prophet Samuel on a mission to anoint a new king. Aware that human view often falls short of God’s vision, the Lord commands Samuel to look past the visible veneer to the discernible interior.
“But the LORD said to Samuel, ‘Don’t judge by his appearance or height, for I have rejected him. The LORD doesn’t see things the way you see them. People judge by outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.’” (1 Samuel 16:7)
In its original language, the word used for “see” is ra’ah, which means “to see with the mind, to perceive, to know.” This kind of sight involves more than hasty impressions; it requires an astute pause of perception.
Throughout the Gospels, Jesus shows us what it looks like to emulate God’s vision.
When He meets an outcast woman at the well in Samaria, Jesus sees more than a hopeless harlot. He spies a broken daughter thirsty for abundant life. (John 4:1-42)
When He notices Zacchaeus in the tree, Jesus sees more than a despised tax collector. He recognizes a man longing for a place to belong. (Luke 19:1-10)
When He encounters Peter on the shores of the Sea of Galilee, Jesus sees more than a brash fisherman. He spots a bold disciple upon whom He will build His church. (Matthew 4:18-20; Matthew 16:18)
I want to see like Jesus does, but I’ll be honest — it’s not easy. On my own, I’m prone to peer at people through eyes of apathy or curiosity, carelessness or judgment.
Thankfully, tucked in the folds of Scripture is a fix for my faulty eyes. Keep “looking to Jesus,” Hebrews 12:2 encourages (ESV).
When we fix our eyes on Jesus — focusing on His character and attending to His presence, acknowledging His authority and agreeing with His Word — our optics are refined.
God’s grace becomes the lens through which we view the world around us, and His love is the plumb line for our perceptions. In time, our habits of shallow scrutiny are replaced by the practice of sagacious sight.
But best of all, when we glue our gaze to our Savior, we become seers instead of watchers. And we make the heart of heaven visible on the dust of earth.
Dear Jesus, forgive me for being swift to watch and slow to see. I want to do more than bear Your name; I want to share Your vision. Give me Your eyes for the people in my path. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.