It's a remarkable thing when a man or woman begins to gaze intently on the Lord and all His goodness. Without exception, the old man within will perish as the resurrected Lord Jesus Christ bears witness with our spirits that we are children of God (Romans 8:16). Even as Moses warned the people before Mount Sinai regarding the holiness of the Lord, even so the Holy Spirit tells us that if we are indeed serious about approaching God, that we will certainly never be the same. Our mandate from God is to be like Him -- to change into His very image as we behold the Lord Jesus Christ within. The sentence of death to self is executed every time we are obedient to the wooing of the Holy Spirit to behold the Lover of our souls. The loving caress of our imagination energized by the supernatural working of Christ's Spirit need never lapse. He is always there to put the beauty of His Person ever before those who would but desire His beauty.
In our fast-paced society, we often can not fully appreciate the need for our souls to gaze upon their Redeemer. It is very much like a flower or a plant needing the sunshine for growth that we likewise need to sit and be given life-giving injections of His holy love. Without these times of refreshing, we too will wilt and droop without the proper stimulation from His magnificent Sonlight. We may pursue these times faithfully for a season, but then the cares of this world will often encroach and demand once again to the point where we languish. It is at this point that we must confess that we are dead to God, but alive to self and that we need a reversal. We need to once again "perish" as the old man dies under the gaze of the soul. This is a discipline that we will all be honing until we go to be with the Lord. A.W. Tozer in his book "The Pursuit of God" wrote regarding the discipline and regular exercise of training oneself to look intently with the gaze of the soul:
Believing, then, is directing the heart's attention to Jesus. It is lifting the mind to `behold the Lamb of God,' and never ceasing that beholding for the rest of our lives. At first this may be difficult, but it becomes easier as we look steadily at His wondrous Person, quietly and without strain. Distractions may hinder, but once the heart is committed to Him, after each brief excursion away from Him the attention will return again and rest upon Him like a wandering bird coming back to its window.
His loving hand will always bring us back to that place of abiding if we will but only submit our affections to do so. The devil will seek to dissuade by his lies, telling us that God no longer can be found because He has become impatient with our failings and many attempts to remain in God's presence. The enemy of our souls will desire our complete dissolution and to despair of attaining any future communion with God, thereby telling us to give up any further attempts. Of course, this could not be anymore further from the truth. Our Heavenly Father is full of patience and mercy toward our sometimes awkward approaches and there is such a rejoicing in His heart when we draw near! He will always reward us with an inward manifestation of His loving, approving countenance if we will but approach Him in faith.
It can be truthfully stated, that whatever we behold or gaze at with intent in this lifetime will kill us! If we stare and lust after sinful desires such as sordid gain, perversion, or any number of things that the world might seek to entice us, then these will certainly lead to a death of our inner spirit, soul, and eventually our own body. This spiritual and physical death devoid of identification with the Lord will most certainly lead to everlasting death. However, if we seek to die to carnal things and to perish from a life lived for self, then the ironic and supernatural begins to happen. Through our perishing to the things of this world we live to God and to the fullness of His life within (Romans 6:11). By gazing intently on the Lord and identifying with His death, we then allow the Lord's resurrection to empower us in every instance. The choice is ours on whom we desire to gaze, for we are hard-wired to gaze upon something. Our Heavenly Father desires that we bring every thought captive in our imaginations (II Corinthians 10:5) and gaze at the Restorer of our Souls, the Lord Jesus Christ. He will lovingly give us life, even as we perish to self in His Holy presence, if we will but only turn both our attention and our affections toward Him.
Heavenly Father, teach us to gaze with intent at your holiness. In so doing, we desire to put to death all that is not of You by taking our imaginations captive to Your beauty. Help us to continually turn toward You, knowing that You are longing to draw us near. Thank You Lord. In Jesus' Name, Amen!
Your Barefoot Servant,