I have had the privilege of performing in the play "The Curious Savage" three times in my life. If you ever have the chance to see it, you should. It's a witty, hilarious story that will move you to tears by the end. One of my favorite parts of the play is when the character Hannibal is helping pick up playing cards that have been scattered around the stage. He remarks, "Man was made all wrong. His stomach should be in the back; when he bends, it gets in the way. And when he kneels, his legs buckle out instead of folding neatly behind him. And why should his nose be in the front? It only gets in the way when he kisses.... I guess God was in a hurry," he jokes quickly, while avoiding an invitation to kiss from one of the other characters.
Now, of course, that is a secular play and by quoting it I am not condoning the idea that God made us with little thought or in a hurry. As a matter of fact, human anatomy would give strong testimony to the opposite. The way that parts of the body function, the fact that everything has a distinct purpose and must do its job for the body to function properly -- these all shout the praises of a meticulous Designer. King David saw this as he wrote, "I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well" (Psalm 139:14).
One of these wonderful creations is the safeguard of the eyelid. This seemingly small layer of skin provides protection from many different attacks. They can shut out the majority of light when closed, as well as keeping out other intrusive specks and particles. But they also can have a spiritual aspect; they can help prevent us from seeing sinful things that we shouldn't see. Whether in our day-to-day lives or as something pops up unexpectedly on our computer/phone/tablet/TV screens, our eyelids can help keep us safe from such spiritual attacks.
In fact, our eyelids can help be a gauge for determining if we have unrepentant sin in our lives. Our eyes can have a tendency to linger on things they shouldn't. Even if it's not an offensive image, we might spend too much time looking at a good thing with a selfish desire. Like when I spend too much time looking at guitars for sale online or in a store; often I find myself unsatisfied with what I already have and wishing I could have what seems to be better. Simply closing our eyes or looking away from whatever it is that is leading us to such sinful desires shows a commitment to obeying the commands that our Lord has placed before us as His servants.
The problem is, simply looking away or closing our eyes really isn't that simple. Within each one of us, our flesh is raging, hoping to emerge and pull us back down. On our own strength alone, we wouldn't be able to completely keep ourselves away from the deceitfulness of sin. You can train your eyes against such things all you want, but if you aren't rooted in the strength of Christ you are doomed to fail. Trying harder won't get you anywhere, except farther into the pit you've dug for yourself.
If you want true release from the control of sinful glances (which lead to extended observations), pray that the Spirit would control your eyes. Not only what you look at, but how you are looking at it. His convicting work can keep you from those things that will cause your eyes to sin against you -- as well as controlling your feet from walking into compromising positions, or your hands from clicking on a link that could lead down a dangerous path. Your strength will get you nowhere. Only admitting your utter dependence can lead you down the path of sanctification when it comes to what you see. Christ gives us the strength to "take every thought captive to obey" Him (II Corinthians 10:5), and guides our eyes to things which are infinitely more beneficial.
Close your eyelids in prayer, open them again and immerse them in Scripture. As you observe this world around us, marvel in the beauty of our Creator and what He has created. When you see good things, don't turn them into idols; rather, praise the God who enabled such good things. If/When you are exposed to sin, see it in perspective, and keep praying that the Lord would not let your heart be hardened by its deceitfulness. This is a hard task, but again, we are tapping into the only strength that can overcome it.
(Special thanks are in order for this blog post: first, to my marvelous girlfriend Shannon Houchin who had the idea for the post; secondly, to Dana Thompson for letting me use a picture of her eye as the "cover photo.")
A simple servant of the Master.