Have you ever loved someone so much it made your face hurt? Someone you get heart-happy over just spending time with, talking to, or thinking about -and you can’t help but smile?
There are several someone’s fitting this description. But one particular someone comes to mind, as I write, and that someone is my Maddie.
I have five grand-kiddos, four boys and one girl. This girl-child, our first grand, holds a bond on my heart which I struggle to describe.
Some say, I don’t treat my other grands in “the same” way as I treat Maddie -and even go as far to say, “You like her best.”
A recent phone conversation confirmed our time-tested bond still holds secure. She calls me. I’m thrilled.
We talk, laugh, and carry-on (the way we do) for a good long while. As our conversation comes to an end and we disconnect, I hear my heart say, “that child is the apple of my eye.”
My immediate next thought … did I really just say that child is “the apple of my eye”? I have never put these eight words together to form this particular phrase, in my entire life! What is this? 1960?
What would prompt me to use these words -in this context, order, tone, affect and intonation? Curiosity fueled my quest to find out exactly what these words even mean.
What I discovered made me smile. Maybe it will make you smile too.
This particular phrase originates from the Bible. Matter-of-fact, these very words are mentioned in four different books of the Bible, with the first mention sited in Deuteronomy 32:10.
“He found him in a desert land, and in the howling waste of the wilderness; he encircled him, he cared for him, he kept him as the apple of his eye.”
Just a surface reading of these verses tell us:
- He found
- He encircled
- He cared
- He kept
I like this. Four verbs easily aligned with a loving parent – especially so, when considering the heavenly Father. These are all good things too. But, this verse metaphorically, also gives the idea of being hand-picked (out of all the possibilities), to be chosen, and loved (to the exclusion of all others) as if the only one.
- He found – him
- He encircled – him
- He cared – for him
- He kept – him
So, in light of this Biblical example (in Deut. 32:10) of a hand-picked exclusive love, some might go as far as to accuse God, right alongside Maddie’s Nana, of blatant and unashamed favoritism.
Come on now, you all know you have seen it too. The obvious examples of partiality exhibited by God, happening all around you:
- as our Heavenly Father rescues his other children.
- as our Heavenly Father protects his other children.
- as our Heavenly Father cares for his other children.
- as our Heavenly Father is faithful to his other children.
We witness God’s obvious preference toward others, as we wander about in our need. We feel abandoned, while watching our father attend only to his others – as our hearts loudly cry out- “you like her best!”
You just don’t love me “the same.”
But you know, things are not always how they appear. What if a more in-depth look into the scripture, through the lens of the original Hebrew, can offer a new perspective?
What if loving differently is actually the most elaborate love God can give. What if God really IS showing favoritism. What if by NOT loving us all “the same,” he loves each of us in a more personal customized way – exclusively (as if we are each the only one).
Being the apple of God’s eye (as a parent), He is so close to you (his child) He can see HIS own image reflecting in your eyes.
According to Theologian John Gill, reflecting in the light of God’s eye is exactly where we want to be. Gill explains “the apple of the eye” (the center) is where images are initially formed – in the retina. The images formed by “the apple of God’s eye” however, are formed by the retina of the heart. Images formed in the center of God’s love shape his perspectives, values, morals, and ideals. Shaping you, and me into the image of his precious child.
We, each one, are the “apple of his eye”.
God is not a neglectful, abusive, or an absent parent. He is always present, always attentive, always loving – all of His children.
Even still …he does NOT love us all “the same”. He is much too wise to do that.
He instead, blatantly loves us equally!
Like a good, good Father, he gives us what we each need (differently), just exactly when we each need it.
- Disciplines – him
- Graces – him
- Forgives – him
- Rebukes – him
- Rescues – him
- Accepts – him
- Strengthens – him
- Blessings – him
- Loves – him
When I stray, He finds me. When I fear, He encircles me. When in need, He cares for me. When in doubt, I am continually but differently kept by him. I see my reflection in the center of His unfailing love “as the apple of his eye.”
Equal yes, but never, ever, “the same.”
“My son, live according to what I am telling you; guard my instructions as you would a treasure deep within you. Stay true to my directives, and they will serve you well; make my teachings the lens through which you see life” (Prov. 7:1-2).
I knew it … He likes you best!