Eugene Peterson’s book Eat this Book teaches us to chew on a passage of scripture, digest it, and then put it to use in practical ways. Our Christian fathers and mothers called this process Lectio Divina. This passage describes the quintessential passion of the 21st century: SQUINTY-EYED GREED.
Matthew 6: 22 – 23 (MSG)
“Your eyes are windows into your body. If you open your eyes wide in wonder and belief, your body fills up with light. If you live squinty-eyed in greed and distrust, your body is a dank cellar. If you pull the blinds on your windows, what a dark life you will have!”
In this verse Jesus sets up contrasts between wonder and greed. What is wonder? Rabbi Lawrence Kushner tells the story of a four-year old and her grandmother who are together on a summer afternoon. The grandmother is reading while the girl plays on the floor nearby. Suddenly there is a crack of thunder and a torrential rain. And then, as quickly as it came, it is gone. The girl gets up, looks out the window, and spots the stripes of a rainbow against a patch of blue sky. “Grandma,” she asks. “Who made that?” Like most children, her world is still full of awe and wonder. Wonder looks at the world with the eyes of a well-loved child and sees the power and glory of God.
And what is greed? The dictionary defines greed as the “excessive desire to acquire or possess more (especially more material wealth) than one needs or deserves.” A check of a thesaurus reveals that the synonyms of greed are grouped around the concept of eating: gluttony, hunger, self-indulgence, insatiable, ravenous. Greed looks at the world with the eyes of a starving child and sees only the need for more: more power, more status, more fulfilled ambition, more wealth, more time – more for me.
Which child do you identify with? A well-loved child of God or a starving child grasping for more?
Jesus sets up two other contrasts in this verse: light vs. dark and open eyes vs. squinty-eyes. If you prefer a body of light to a dank cellar or wide open eyes to shuttered windows, train yourself to live in wonder by using all your senses.
♥ Go on a wonder walk. Meander on a familiar path and pay attention to everything you see. Stop and observe. Listen to what you are seeing. What did you notice that you’ve never seen before?
♥ Look at a strawberry or an apple very closely. Thank God for providing it. Describe its shape, color, and size. What is its texture; what do you feel? Smell it. Taste it. Write your answers in your journal or create a poem about the strawberry or apple.
♥ Is there something you touch that brings God closer? I have a glass stone engraved with the “I am one in whom Christ dwells and delights.” When I touch that stone, it seems to fill my soul. Maybe you have beads or a prayer shawl or cross that you can use to bring God near. If so, incorporate this into your devotional time. If you don’t, perhaps you can create one. What can you draw or sew or build or bake that can remind you of God? Just the making of it will involve the sense of touch.
MORE FOOD FOR THOUGHT: Psalm 65: 8 – 13 (MSG)
Far and wide they’ll come to a stop,
they’ll stare in awe, in wonder.
Dawn and dusk take turns
calling, “Come and worship.”
Oh, visit the earth; ask her to join the dance!
Deck her out in spring showers,
fill the God-River with living water.
Paint the wheat fields golden.
Creation was made for this!
Drench the plowed fields,
soak the dirt clods
with rainfall as harrow and rake
bring her to blossom and fruit.
Snow-crown the peaks with splendor,
scatter rose petals down your paths,
All through the wild meadows, rose petals.
Set the hills to dancing,
Dress the canyon walls with live sheep,
a drape of flax across the valleys.
Let them shout, and shout, and shout!
Oh, oh, let them sing!