I just had my eyes dilated last week for my routine eye exam. It’s always a strange experience. Dilation takes a door of perception (your pupils) and forces it to swing wide on its hinges. Your pupils expand, letting in more light. And then when you walk outside, the sun can feel assaulting. That’s not so different, I guess, from reading the Bible. Let me explain.
I left the eye doctor’s office and took my routine walk at lunchtime, through a quiet neighborhood across from the seminary. With every step, I had to keep my head down, squinting and rotating my head back and forth to keep abreast of my location next to the curb. It was discomforting. My pupils were too far open, like barn doors pulled back on their track, letting in a draft of cold air.
Of course, I knew my pupils would contract in a matter of hours. And then I would see the world as I usually did. But for that lunchtime walk, I began thinking of how my physical experience mirrors a spiritual reality for all of us.
You see, your pupils are the doors for your perception of light. When they expand, more light can enter. And this can be uncomfortable, even painful. But eventually, your pupils adjust to the environment. On a normal day, during my lunchtime walk, my pupils shrink, adapting to the midday sun. Our eyes are designed to adapt and adjust to what’s around us, to our surroundings, to the input of the world.
Here’s my question for you (and for me): Do the pupils of your soul ever expand? Do they ever grow larger to take in more of the light of God’s speech?
John, we know, called Jesus “the Word,” and then added that this Word was the house of life, but that life was “the light of men” (John 1:1, 4). Jesus, as the second person of the Trinity incarnate, is the light of God, the light in our world (John 8:12). Our souls are surrounded by him, for it is through this Word that all things came to be and are being sustained at this very moment (Col. 1:16–17; Heb. 1:3). We are surrounded, in other words, by God himself, by illuminating speech, by the true origin of light, of whom physical light is but an image. In the light of God’s speech, in the light of the Word, we live and move and have our being (Acts 17:28).
And the Bible is a more specific word from the Word, since it was given by the Spirit of God, who is the Spirit of Christ (Rom. 8:9), the incarnate Word. The Bible is not just a general light by which we see the world, but a saving light that shows us not just what to see but how to see. That is why Jesus says that the eye is the “lamp of the body” (Matt. 6:22–23). If your perception of the world, if what you see around you, is not affected by the light of God’s speech (Scripture), then your soul will be dark. Put differently, if the pupils of your soul never expand to let in more light from God’s speech, then you will dwell in darkness.
Spiritually speaking, we are often a people with tiny pupils, only letting in a ray of light from God’s Son here and there, when we find the time. But when we do this, we dim the world around us. We see less clearly and are prone to trip over tree roots and back up into bramble. If we want to see ourselves and everything around us more clearly, we have to pick up the light of God’s speech.
We need the pupils of our souls dilated. Only then will we come to see what and how God wants us to see.
Like what you read? Some of these ideas are unpacked more fully in my new book, The Speaking Trinity & His Worded World: Why Language Is at the Center of Everything.