Laura (my wife) watches a baby several days a week, and this morning before I left for work I looked into the face of the newborn and saw what I can only describe as, he “beheld” me. He looked at my face as though he had never seen a face before. (He was probably trying to figure out what the gray in my beard was all about.)
His, of course, was an innocent look. It was a look of curiosity and wonder. And it reminded me of how I used to look at people, nature, and beauty. Somewhere along life’s way, I have forgotten how to behold.
To behold means to stop what you’re doing and fix your complete attention upon something. When you behold, you contemplate and consider. It’s not the gaze of judgment but grace. To behold is to see with eyes of wonder.
The Bible teaches us to behold God’s creation and creatures (Proverbs 24:31). We behold the workings of our hearts before God (Proverbs 24:12). We behold God’s providence and hand in history (Psalm 46:8), his provisions in ordinary life (Ecclesiastes 5:18), his presence in our day-to-day (Psalm 33:18), and the promise of his ongoing help (Psalm 54:4).
When we behold in this way, we pause in the busyness in life. We breathe. We wonder. And those who once were blurry to us before, due to how ordinary they seemed, now come into focus among the mattering things.
Zack Eswine writes that “to behold God in all things daily changes the way we learn and alters what we look at” (The Imperfect Pastor, 155). When we behold we say by grace, “Now the ears of my ears are awake. Now the eyes of my eyes are opened” (E. E. Cummings, “Walking on Water”).
The next time you see a sunset, stop what you’re doing and fix your complete attention on the beauty of the moment. When you sip a nicely brewed cup of coffee, pause for your senses to awaken and behold. Look and listen in such a way that helps you rediscover the “unapparent presence of God” (Barnes, The Pastor as Minor Poet, 22).
When you strengthen the muscle of beholding, you will be more apt not to miss what is most important—“The Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world” (John 1:29).
May God grant you ears awakened to his still, small voice and eyes opened to his beauty.