Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus is a beautiful hymn. I’ve heard it all my life. If you’re not familiar with it the words to the refrain read, “Turn your eyes upon Jesus, look full in His Wonderful face, and the things of earth will grow strangely dim, in the light of His glory and grace.” Yesterday while reading a new book I had received I learned that Mark Noll, an eminent church historian, feels the hymn writer plainly errs in her theology. He says the things of this earth grow clearer, not dimmer, in the light of Christ.
Despite my love for this song I have to admit that Noll makes a good point. As one turns his or her eyes upon Jesus and draws nearer to him the things of the earth grow brighter and more radiant. This is true, at least, when it comes to the natural things of this earth.
When we see Creation as a gift of Christ’s, and remember that God makes himself known through that which He has made, it makes the natural world more resplendent. It also makes it more meaningful. I suspect you have items that mean a lot to you primarily because of the person who made the item or gave it to you. When we look at Creation through the lens of faith we see the world as a wonderful and prized gift. Creation means more to us because we personally know the Creator. I think the closer I come to Christ the more I appreciate and admire Creation. Likewise, the more I come to know and love him the more I want to care for that which he has made.
I think I know where Helen Lemmel was coming from when she wrote Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus. A lot of the things we prize so much here on earth do indeed grow dimmer when we focus on Christ and his kingdom but his Creation is not one of them. For me and many others, the things of this earth grow strangely bright in the light of His glory and grace.
(The images above were taken last year at Greenbo Lake State Park in northeastern Kentucky.)