Ephesians 1:18 -- Open the eyes of their hearts, and let the light of Your truth flood in. Shine Your light on the hope You are calling them to embrace. Reveal to them the glorious riches You are preparing as their inheritance.
The Bible is rich with figurative language. Like our opening Bible verse, many verses refer to our eyes or seeing or vision, and many of these verses refer to sight in the physical sense, but as a metaphor. The phrase “Open the eyes of their hearts” is a metaphor. If you are a scientist, or even a child with the slimmest knowledge of anatomy, hearts don’t really have eyes; we can’t see with our hearts. Similarly, the word ‘heart’ is frequently given a metaphorical meaning in the Bible, and it continues to work as a useful metaphor even today. For instance, we occasionally hear that a good person has a ‘big heart’ or a ‘heart of gold’, or that a logical person who displays no emotion is ‘all head and no heart’. I use the phrase “moving from our heads to our hearts”.
It is useful because we understand the meaning; the reference makes sense to us. ‘Open the eyes of their hearts’ means to open the sensing, intuitive, feeling centers of their being. It means to allow them to perceive the spiritual aspects of our Universe, not just the physical. It means to look beyond the obvious and observe the deeper meanings.
To be sure, to ‘see’ God, to experience the glory and holiness of God, requires our physical ears and eyes and senses, otherwise we could not construe all the goodness of God’s Universe. But to understand God’s holiness we need to see past the physical world. God’s holiness refers to the infinitely unique greatness of God, and His goodness, worthiness, and perfection. God’s holiness refers to his being the creative force behind the whole Universe; the One Presence and One Power active in our lives and in all that is. Our eyes and ears and physical senses make it easier to interpret what we are living in and experiencing. But to completely perceive God’s holiness we need a deeper understanding; one that comes from inner seeing and intuition.
Our eyes and ears make it easier to see God’s glory. Like holiness, or beauty, for that matter, ‘glory’ is difficult to define through the limitation of words. But in essence, God’s glory is the manifestation of God’s presence. It is a revelatory spiritual awakening to God’s presence and influence.
God’s glory is often associated with Light in the Bible. Because of this, one of the many names applied to God is “Jehovah Ori”, or “The Lord My Light.” Our Bible verse tells us to “Let the light of Your truth flood in.” Isaiah 60:1 reads: Arise, shine, for your light has come, and the glory of the Lord has risen upon you.
Yes, light is used as a metaphor. It refers to inner illumination and enlightenment. This light is seen through the eyes of our hearts, through our inner vision, intuition, perception, not by our physical eyes. We understand God’s holiness and glory not just by their physical examples, like beholding a beautiful sunrise or witnessing an act of courage or unconditional love, but also through the deep feelings registered on our hearts, on our emotional senses, when we experience these events. In Matthew 13:13 Jesus described the spiritually blind by saying, “Seeing they do not see.” Something more than the use of the natural eyes and ears and brains is required to see the glory and the holiness of God.
This is the importance of opening the eyes of our hearts; opening the receptors of our feelings and perceptions where we can allow the spiritual data to flow into us. If we allow our ego to dictate our reactions, such as relying on entrenched habits, we block the Light of God. When we allow our fears, doubts, prejudices, and unforgiveness to guide us, we close the eyes of our hearts and cannot see clearly.
When I was in 6th grade, I had to get glasses. I remember the first day with my new glasses as I walked to school. Even as a child, I was amazed and appreciative of how clearly everything looked. I was especially enthralled with the new definition in the leaves of the trees that I passed. Seeing clearly has a profound effect on how we engage our world.
There are gradations of vision that we can have. We can be totally blind, see clearly, or in between there is a wide range of indistinct vision. In Mark 8:23-24 we are told of a miracle where Christ heals a blind man. Jesus spits on his hands then places them on the blind man’s eyes. When asked if he can see anything, the man says, “I can see the people, but they look like trees walking around.” Once again Jesus placed His hands on the man’s eyes, which restores his sight completely.
I feel like that blind man at times: I have been blind, and I have been where I can see my way spiritually, but only partly; it is not clear, and I am not understanding exactly what I should be doing or thinking or experiencing. I am not aware of my prejudices and the judgments I am imposing on others.
he Hindus and Buddhists have a greeting where they fold their hands in front of their hearts and say, “Namaste.” [nuh-muh’-stay]. In Sanskrit the word means “I bow to you.” Roughly translated, the meaning is “I bow to the God within you,” or “The Spirit in me beholds the Spirit in you.” It is our acknowledgement that there is a divine spark within us all, and we respect that essence of the Divine One within them. This is a lovely way to think of others: that they are a Child of God; that they have God within them.
We must open the eyes of our heart in order to see someone in this manner. To look past the arrogance, hatred, bigotry, vileness, and plain old orneriness of someone and sincerely think, “Namaste” is to open the eyes of our heart.
To release our prejudices and hatred is to open the eyes of our heart. For most of us, we are not caught up in overt hatred and bigotry; we are not terrorists. No, we express our biases more eloquently and often by omission: we don’t stop to help someone; we withhold a kind word. We ignore, turn our faces away, or avoid interaction. We may not outwardly express our disrespect or disdain for someone, and even manage to put on a ‘happy face’, but inside we are seething with irritation; there is no inner peace.
I tell you, it is better to keep our contempt to our self than share it with everyone, but better still is to release our anger and contempt, because that is the ego yacking at us. Although our face may show joy and affability, if our heart is darkened by hatred and scorn, our spiritual eyes are closed, and we have stunted our connection to Spirit. We may be able to fool all those around us, but we cannot fool God, and we are punishing our self.
Our physical eyes can focus on things; we can direct our attention towards particular objects. The same is true with our spiritual eyes, the eyes of our heart. When we keep our inner vision directed toward God, the world has little effect on us. As we behold the light of Spirit shining in every heart, we open our eyes and lives to the opportunities to share compassion with all of humanity.
Remaining focused on the Source of all good transforms the mundane into a continuous spiritual cornucopia of delight and appreciation. Redirecting our attention from the world to Christ frees us from the bondage of believing we need to receive worldly compensation for all that we do. By focusing on God and Spirit as we move through our life, we can receive compensation from God and Spirit for our activities. They pay in a different currency: that of love, joy, peace, courage, contentment, and fulfillment.
By allowing the vision of our hearts to engage the beauty of Spirit, we begin to see the holiness and glory of God. We perceive the love and power of God as it floods our hearts and the world around us. Whatever we focus on, the more of that we see. The more we focus on God, the more of God we see. The more we focus on good, the more good we see. Our challenge is to rivet our attention on Love, Peace, Joy. Why? Because that is what we will see in the world, in ourselves, and in others.
My prayer is that we will take the time to move into the stillness with God, constantly asking that the eyes of our hearts be opened and thanking God for the guidance that Christ provides as we experience the holiness, glory, and Grace of God.