Many months ago someone took this picture of me at a conference. I briefly glanced at the photo and went to delete it, as it did not seem necessary to keep. As I clicked over to delete forever, I heard the Holy Spirit say "Keep it." I thought this was odd, but obeyed, allowing the photo to get lost in my camera roll.
Several weeks later, I was in Adoration, flipping through my photos to find a prayer I had screenshotted(is this a word lol? You know what I mean!) Instead, I stumbled upon this picture. I stopped looking for the prayer, starred at the photo, and contemplated it with the Holy Spirit. I felt odd at first, and rather vain to be contemplating a picture of myself, yet simultaneously felt a strong conviction that the Spirit had something to say to me through it.
What struck me about the photo was how everything in it was blurred except for me. At first, I concentrated on the blurred people, trying to remember what they looked like, what their names were, if maybe I interacted with them. I started to get angry at myself for not being focused enough on the other souls, and assumed the Holy Spirit was trying to expose my selfishness and pride.
I began to pray for humility, when a soft voice began to speak to my soul. Very gently the Lord said, "Allie, this is how I see you. At all times and all moments, my gaze is fixed and focused on you."
Yesterday was the feast of the Baptism of Our Lord. This feast draws our attention to three realities: Jesus is the Son of God, the Father loves Jesus, and the Father is proud of Jesus. As I contemplate this feast, as well as the words I received in prayer, my attention is brought back to the ever present gaze of the Father.
Often times in our walk with God, we can get fixated and discouraged by what we are doing (or most of the time not doing) for the Father. We can also get distracted by worrying too much about what others are doing, falling into unholy judgment and comparison. While it is good to have lively self awareness, contrition for sin, recognition of the presence of evil, and holy judgment, I have come to realize that it is less about what I'm doing and more about what He is doing. Time after time, I have to remind myself that my only job in life is to be God's kid. Everything else is really above my pay grade.
I find that when I am rooted in my identity as a daughter, my eyes are focused completely on my Father. As I look at my Abba, I find that His eyes are fixed right back at me. When I live in the gaze of the Father, and direct all my efforts to keeping my eyes locked on His, I attain that peace which surpasses all understanding. Living in His loving gaze frees me to have joy, security, and serenity in the fullness of who I was created to be. When my eyes are fixed elsewhere, whether it be on myself or my neighbor, it is impossible for me to maintain a supernatural outlook on my life.
As we begin this new year, I pray that each of us may follow the example of Our Lord and begin just as He began His ministry here on earth.
"On coming up out of the water he saw the heavens being torn open and the Spirit, like a dove, descending upon him. And a voice came from the heavens, 'You are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased.'"
That light from the Heavens shining down on Jesus was a glorious glimpse at what the gaze of the Father looks like. Although we seldom get to experience the gaze of the Father like Jesus did, the reality of what Jesus experienced in His baptism can be our reality as well. I encourage you to take a moment in prayer and imagine yourself coming out of the water like Jesus did. Can you imagine that light shining on you? Can you hear the words of the Father being spoken over you?
How different would our lives look, if we could receive our true identity as a child of God. If we but turn our face towards the Father and allow Him the opportunity to see us and know us exactly as we are in the current moment. Without attempting to clean ourselves up, hide our imperfections, or mask our flaws, if we could just present ourselves before the Father every single day, then He will speak the same favorable words He spoke to Jesus 2000 years ago. . . You are my beloved; with you I am well pleased.