Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Who's the Apple of Your Eye?

The human eye is an amazingly complex organ. The eye, the optic nerve and the visual cortex are separate and distinct subsystems, yet together they capture, deliver and interpret up to 1.5 million pulse messages a milli-second! The eye allows us to see the fiery colors of a sunset or the pinpoints of light in the night sky. We use the word ‘eye’ to talk about perception of many kinds. When our attention is attracted to something, we call it “eye-catching,” or an “eye-opener.” If you’re watching something carefully, you're “keeping your eye on the ball,” or your “eyes are peeled.” If you excel at something you have “an eye for it” and when you and I agree about something we see things “eye to eye.”

You are the apple of my eye.” It’s a familiar line…a cliché even; but how many of us knew it was more than three thousand years old, a phrase that comes from the pages of the Bible; a phrase that speaks not just of human love, but of a love that can heal our deepest hurts and fulfill our deepest longings? What does the phrase really mean?

The “apple” of my eye refers to the pupil of my eye. Why? Well, probably because an apple was one of the most common sphere-shaped objects around…the central aperture or opening of the eye, the dark center, was referred to as the apple. The apple or “pupil” of the eye, is the gateway through which visible light passes and is converted by the brain into three dimensional images. The original Hebrew phrase, often translated “apple” really means “little man” or “little daughter” of my eye. I want you to look deep into someone’s eyes right now. Can you see your reflection? When we stand very close to someone, we can actually see a tiny reflection of ourselves, in the center of the other person’s eye. The Latin word pupil actually means “little doll” which is why a pupil often refers to a school child. Once again, it refers to the fact that you can see a tiny version of yourself in the eye of the beholder. When you are in the “apple” or even just the “pupil” of my eye you are close to me, in more ways than one, because…

To be “the apple” of someone’s eye is to be cherished by that person above all others. From the day of our birth, we have a deep need to be seen…to be noticed, valued, and ultimately cherished. Eye to eye and face to face contact with our mothers is second only to touch when it comes to the bonding process. In the hospital, babies receive all kinds of medical attention after birth; but never anything that might hinder their ability to clearly see the mother for an extended period of time (like silver nitrate drops that cause a film to form over the eyes, dimming vision). At infancy, the optimal distance for eye to eye contact is about 10 inches – which just happens to be the distance between a baby and its nursing mother. This simple interaction encourages brain development, release of critical hormones, and reinforces a sense of emotional and spiritual well being. “You are the apple of my eye.” It’s a phrase that a mother could easily use to describe how she cherishes her nursing baby. But the root meaning of this phrase is found not in the expression of human love but a love that is not of this world…the love of God.

In Deuteronomy 32: 9-11 Moses describes how God sustained and cared for his people. “He sustained him in a desert land, in a howling wilderness was he shielded him as the apple of his eye.” Therefore, to be “the apple” of God’s eye is to experience God’s love and protection. Knowing that God loves his people, David asks the LORD in Psalm 17:7-8 to “Wondrously show your steadfast love…Guard me as the apple of your eye." A moment ago we were talking about the importance of eye contact between mother and baby during a child’s first weeks of life. But what if a child did not receive such reassuring love? What of those who were not seen or touched in a loving way by their mother or father? David knew something profound and it gave him great peace. In Psalm 139:13-16 we read, “It was you who formed my inward parts; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you for I am fearfully and wonderfully made....My frame was not hidden from you when I was being made in secret, intricately woven in the depths of the earth, Your eyes beheld my unformed substance.” Before any human eye beheld you, before any ultrasound peered into your mother’s womb, it was God’s privilege to be the first to see you, the very first to love you, the very first to welcome you into this world; and it is God’s promise to guard you “like the apple of his eye!”

Perhaps you have wondered, “Does God in fact truly love, guard, and protect me? I have come to rest in that great promise…believing and trusting that he guards me as we would guard and protect our eyesight. This does not mean that I can walk off a tall building and expect God to magically catch me before I fall. It means that my life is lived within the bounds of His sovereign grace; that nothing can happen to me apart from his sovereign will; that when all is finished and I face the power of death, I will fall into the hands of God and the greater power of the Risen Christ; knowing that nothing that happens to me will ever separate God from me or his love.

To be the “apple” of God’s eye, is to keep God’s commands. One very important way that I experience God’s protection and loving care is through his word. To be guarded like the apple of his eye does not mean that we sit around passively waiting for him to reach down and save us whenever we mess up. In Proverbs 7: 1-3 God says, “Keep my teachings as the apple of your eye.” Read my word, study it, know it, cherish it, obey it. “Your word is a lamp” says David. Our eyes are fantastically complex, but for all their complexity, they are useless to us without light. What a tragedy to go through this life without knowing God, or the illuminating truth of his word.

Finally, to be the “apple” of God’s eye, is to value others as he does you. Through the prophet Zechariah the LORD says these words: “The one who touches you touches the apple of my eye (Zechariah. 2:8). I understood this first as a word of warning to those who would seek to injure or harm me as his child. “The one who touches you, the one who harms you, the one who threatens you does so as though he/she was touching or harming or threatening me, even my own eyes.” The evil one has no ultimate power over my life…nor do his accomplices.

But this verse also gives me a new perspective on the other members of God’s family. That when I touch another child of God, whether gently or harshly, I am daring to touch a person whom he loves, the apple of his eye. Perhaps you know that you are the apple of God’s eye, but do you know that you are not the only one; and that God wants you to value others as he values you? You know, it’s possible to live our lives intentionally blind to other people. We’ve all heard the expression, “I only have eyes for you.” That can be true in a positive sense when it means fidelity…but it can be true in a negative sense when it means that we shut out the people around us; when we have eyes for our children, but not for anyone else’s; when we have eyes for our own comfort and success, but not for those who suffer or who do not know the love of Christ. Mark Labberton tells the story of traveling to Rwanda where a guide showed them many advanced AIDS patients, and much human need. When they were preparing to return home, the guide said to them, “I hope that you will not only see but live like you’ve seen what you’ve seen. Many have seen these things but have left as though they never saw anything.” May God give us eyes to truly see the harrassed and helpless, the sick and the lonely, and those running from God as God sees them…as the apple of his eye.

Do you remember the lines of this familiar song? “You are the sunshine of my life, that’s why I’ll always be around. You are the apple of my eye; forever you’ll stay in my heart.” Stevie Wonder sung that well-known love song; but what makes that song so beautiful to me…is that Stevie Wonder is blind. He has never seen the sunshine. He has never been able to look into the apple of someone’s eye. When he sung those words, he was speaking about someone who enabled him to see with the eyes of his heart, the most important eyesight of all. He was speaking about how love had brought a new beginning to his life and wiped away his tears.

But this is also a love song that God sings to us. Because YOU are the sunshine of his life and YOU are the apple of his eye. God wants to open the eyes of your heart, he wants to surround you like the strength of a mother’s love; he wants to guide you with his Word and Spirit; he wants you to value others as he values you. You are the apple of my eye, says the LORD, but I will not, I can not, rest until I am the apple of yours.

10 comments:

Jason Heilman said...

Thanks bro. Great Article... J

bernardshah said...

Dear Brother,
its a beautiful article. I am really moved. I have shared today with my collegues. thank God . I never visualised that Jesus should be the apple of my eye. Praise God. i have loved my Lord but I will strive from today and one day make my Lord happy .

Shalita Roychowdhury said...

I am so blessed by this article Brother. I am going through a job situation in my life and was not being able to clearly hear His voice with all false accusations being put on me at work. Praise God that during this dilima God has shown he my position I Christ and I know now nothing can touch.
me. I am so blessed
Shalita

Shalita Roychowdhury said...

I am so blessed by this article Brother. I am going through a job situation in my life and was not being able to clearly hear His voice with all false accusations being put on me at work. Praise God that during this dilima God has shown he my position I Christ and I know now nothing can touch.
me. I am so blessed
Shalita

Shalita Roychowdhury said...

I am so blessed by this article Brother. I am going through a job situation in my life and was not being able to clearly hear His voice with all false accusations being put on me at work. Praise God that during this dilima God has shown he my position I Christ and I know now nothing can touch.
me. I am so blessed
Shalita

Bible Journalist said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Bible Journalist said...


Bible JournalistApril 7, 2016 at 4:04 AM
I love this!! ... It is so special... I had not even begun to understand ..what GOD was saying ..when writing these Words!!!.. ---Thank You for Sharing. .. I have never even seen ...this interpreted in this light... amongst Hispanic Believers. Would love to See it in Spanish...

Bible Journalist said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Tony Lorna said...

This was a brillant message!!! *****
I never really understood what being the apple of Gods eye meant but knew God was speaking to me personally about this scripture.

I loved what you said it was not only heart warming it was the truth in all its fullness.I feel deeply moved because it is true we all want to be seen, noticed and valued. Just to think that God was the first to SEE us is truly wonderful. I feel more loved, protected and guarded than ever i feel after reading your blog i have permission to move forward with confidence and peace and i can now fulfill my destiny knowing that someone greater is watching over me.thankyou for sharing your gift with the world.-
1 Corinthians 15 v 58

Steven Craig said...

Thank you dear friends for your comments which encouraged me greatly. May our Lord continue to remind each of us that we are truly the apple of His eye :)