I would like to redeem this word by suggesting that God loves to be ogled. The word actually has a much broader meaning than what we have assigned to it. A Spanish equivalent is, comerse con los ojos—“to feed oneself with the eyes”. I like both the poetry and the theology of that expression. In fact, I am proposing a new word that means, “gazing upon or contemplating the glories of God with the desire to know Him more intimately.” The word is, theogling.
This kind of yearning for God is mentioned by David in Psalm 42.1:
“As a deer pants for flowing streams, so pants my soul for you, O God.” (ESV)
The verb, “pant” (arag), means, “to look for, long for, desire.” In the context of our relationship with our God, there is nothing salacious about it.
The other day I was riding with two colleagues through the interior of Córdoba Province in northern Argentina. On the way back to Villa Carlos Paz, where we were staying, we were treated to a spectacle to which the photos I’ve included can hardly do justice. God invited us into his cosmic studio and allowed us to watch as, in the deepening twilight, He gleefully hurled His glory across the sky.
Did you ever stop to contemplate the purpose of a spectacular sunset? Oh, it has a scientific reason—a cause—but what is its purpose? Animals can’t appreciate it. Plants couldn’t care less. It makes no difference to any of them what colour the sky is as the sun disappears below the horizon. If it unobtrusively dropped out of the heavens every night, nothing would be different in the morning.
But David, that poet who longed after God, wrote in Psalm 19.1:
“The heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky above proclaims his handiwork.” (ESV)
Those two words, “declare” (saphar) and “proclaim” (nagad), are active verbs that leave no doubt in my mind as to YHWH’s intentions. He wants to be noticed. Appreciated. Longed for.
Another passage of Scripture comes to mind as I sit here and drink in the aroma of the peaches, bananas, baguette, and coffee on the table next to me. This time it’s from James 1.17:
“Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change.” (ESV)
My “Father of Lights”, the One who treated me to such an astounding visual performance last week, is a mixed-media artist. Peaches wouldn’t have to smell this good to provide the same nutritional benefits. Bread could still be the “staff of life” if its aroma and texture and flavour didn’t bring such pleasure. I believe God does a lot of the things He does just to be noticed.
Perhaps we all need to engage in more theogling.