"Which came first: the chicken or the egg?"
Many a time I've heard my kids debate this question and I have to say that the longer I coach, the more I believe this question is also true of growing and going.
Which comes first?
Do we grow and then go, or go and then grow?
It has been said that Psalm 32 was Augustine's favourite psalm. (He even had it inscribed by his bed in his last days so that he might dwell on it more deeply.) The first of twelve psalms with the same title, David writes a "contemplative" psalm. The Hebrew for contemplation here can also be translated as "instruction," so this is a psalm about guidance, contemplation and instruction.
Verse 8 reads, "I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you with my loving eye on you."
In this one verse, we have God saying that He will instruct and teach us. He is the One who can help us grow in our understanding so that we might thengo in the direction He instructs. The word for 'go' here is used over 1,500 times in the Old Testament. And the idea of going doesn't change in the New Testament either. If we're God's people, then we're a people on mission. We're on the move; we go.
But, and importantly, we don't go alone.
As we go, He has His loving eye on us, or, as the NKJV says, "I will guide you with My eye."
Take yourself back to Downtown Abbey days and imagine Robert Crawley, the Earl of Grantham, sat at the head of his dining table. Mr Carson, the butler, would only need to see his master look at the salt shaker to know that he wants it, and consequently, Mr Carson would then take action. Essentially, God's saying the same thing for us. If we are attentive enough and diligently watching Him, then we will be led and guided by His eye. As we go, we will grow in our understanding of who God is and who we are in light of that, when we keep our eyes fixed firmly on our Master.
In addition to watching the direction of the Master's gaze, when someone has their 'eye on you', it means they're watching, observing and noticing everything that's happening with you. They're not interfering per se, but are aware of your moves and the choices you're making. Much like when we encourage a child to do something on their own for the first time. We watch, we're present, we're there if they really need help or assistance, but we don't take over. We might offer an additional word of encouragement or instruction, but mostly we allow the child to complete the task on their own so they know their capabilities and can feel a sense of achievement for what they've done.
Friend. God has His eye on you.
Another beautiful thing about this verse is the definition of 'counsel'. Not only does it encompass guidance, advice, direction, instruction, information and enlightenment, but also, we know that to receive counsel involves consultation, dialogue, conversation, and discussion. God is going to dialogue and communicate with us in a very real and live way. He's intent on encouraging, and recommending His ways to us as we're going. He's not a silent guide.
All of God's wisdom, advice, leading, and guidance with "his loving eye on you." Think about that! Never stopping or removing His gaze from you. Watching each and every step you take, your conversations, the next move you make. He doesn't counsel and then say, "See you next week, let me know how it goes." With Christ, there is constant oversight and care. Instruction and teaching yes, but also, loving care and presence.
So for some, there's initial growth that must take place where we can receive our instruction and teaching in order to make that first bold, brave step and get going. But for others, it will be as we are going that we grow in our understanding of what God is up to, and consequently, how He wants us to partner with Him.
Sometimes the growth leads us to take the step. Other times, the step leads us to the growth.
I'm guessing that there will be some areas in your life where you're already going full-pelt. You're clear on your mission and purpose, and with your eyes fixed on the Master, you're being led by His eye. But in other areas, you might be stuck, confused, or in some sort of holding pattern. If that's the case, don't despair - God has promised to teach and instruct you, to grow you, so that you'll be able to go in confidence there too.
And if you want a friend to cheer you on in the process of figuring it out and getting unstuck, then I am here for you!