Some words are intimidating to hear.
When a gruff voice, with slightly squinted eyes, says, “I’ve got my eye on you,” many children will cringe a bit. A parent or other authority figure has just laid down a pretty significant warning. “Whatever you do, I’m watching.” It might be followed up with that two fingered gesture, the one that points first into the parent’s eyes, and then into yours.
The implication is that you better be on your best behavior, or else. The threat of judgment and discipline looms, and the recommended course of action is usually one of restraint: don’t try to get away with something, not on my watch.
Heard this way, these are words of fear. But that’s not the only way they can be received, or given.
I picture a different scene. A child is at a playground with his father. Young and inquisitive, he explores the fabulous machinery available to him. An astounding array of jungle gym equipment is begging to be clambered over, swung from, and slid down.
But I’m so small. And those bars are so high. That slide is so steep. Perched on top of the platform, uncertain if the excitement of a moment ago is sufficient enough to bolster my courage to take that step down the twirly slide, my eyes look for dad’s.
And I find him! He looks back at me and smiles gently, saying, “I’ve got my eye on you.” He knows exactly what I’m thinking. I’m afraid again, but not of him. I’m afraid of getting hurt, of taking a wrong step, of plunging into the unknown.
So he encourages me. “I’ve got my eye on you.” It’s going to be okay. I’m being watched by someone who knows, someone who has power to rescue, someone who is looking out for my welfare. He would stop me if I was going to head into disaster, and he will rescue me even if I end up there somehow.
I’ve got My eye on you.
Have you spoken these words lately? Were you encouraging, supporting, committing to come alongside to help? Or were you skeptical, condemning, protecting yourself?
Have you heard these words lately? If God were speaking them to you, which way would they be intended, and which way would you receive them? To your ears, are they words of warning, of discipline, of disapproval, of distrust? Or are they words of loving care, assurance, promise?