HE’S ALWAYS WATCHING ME
Several sit silently now on shelves in my study at home. A couple have ended up at the church in my office, while one or two have been relocated to another room in our house. Most now find themselves carefully packed away waiting for me to determine what their ultimate fate may be. Someday I need to decide whether I will keep these longtime furry friends or pass them along for someone else to enjoy. Through the years they’ve brought me a lot of happiness and been a source of encouragement to many others who have crossed my path. I know they are just stuffed animals, but somehow when I see them I always seem to feel a little better about myself and the world around me.
My love for Garfield started years ago in the comic strip. This obnoxious, over-weight, spoiled kitty has been getting into trouble in one way or another since he was first introduced by Jim Davis in 1978. The strip became an instant best seller. In less than a year it was appearing in newspapers all across the country. In the daily strip Garfield, along with his sidekick, a precocious pup named Odie, give their owner, Jon Arbuckle, a mixture of laughter and aggravation. Whether it’s Garfield laziness, Odie’s playful antics, or Jon’s personal problems, this comic strip seems to tickle my funny bone more than any other.
I’m not sure how it started, but sometime around 1985 I got my first stuffed Garfield. I think my wife may have gotten it for me for my birthday because I liked the comic so much. For whatever reason, that gift started my collection of these cute, fuzzy little critters. That collection has grown significantly over the years. I now have Garfields in all sorts of poses and costumes. There’s one wearing a bathrobe, another in a referee’s outfit, one dressed as a king, another wearing a Santa hat, and even one imitating cupid. You name it and I probably have a Garfield fit for the occasion. I’ve even used these little guys over the years to tell children’s stories or as sermon illustrations. For whatever reason, they’ve definitely become a part of my life.
There’s one specific thing that all of these stuffed Garfields have in common – their eyes. While the rest of the Garfield is plush and stuffed, the eyes are always made of hard plastic. Sometimes his eyes are wide open, and other times they are half open……but they are always open. I’ve never seen a stuffed Garfield with his eyes shut! As I look around my study right now, there are about 40 of these guys “watching me”. That’s the thought that struck me this morning – “they’re always watching me”. While having a stuffed animal watching you is not necessarily comforting, it did bring a thought to me that I didn’t expect. The more I thought about it, the more I saw the correlation.
I know this may be a stretch, but hear me out. Every time I walk into my study at home I can’t help but notice the 40 sets of eyes on me. They are a constant reminder of my love of Garfield and the joy his adventures have given me over the years. When I walk into my office at church, I’m greeted by the Garfields located there too! His eyes never blink, his focus never changes, and his attention seems to stay centered on what I’m doing. I understand these are just stuffed animals, but who said you couldn’t understand an important life principle from an inanimate object? As a matter of fact, I think some of life’s most important lessons can be taken from our awareness of the “things” around us.
Genesis 28:15 says– “I am with you and will watch over you wherever you go….”Psalms 121:8 adds, “The Lord will watch over your coming and going both now and forevermore” . There are many other scriptures that seem to echo these sentiments. Though I can’t see the open eyes of God surrounding me like I can see the open eyes of the Garfields in my study, I know for a fact that He is watching me. No matter what is going on in my life, it has not escaped His attention. Nothing can happen to me that He doesn’t notice. He is always on duty watching out for my best interest. Every day, everywhere I go, every situation I face, He’s watching! My Garfields reminded me about that today!
It’s funny how little things can remind us of big truths. When I was a child I remember hearing my dad and mom sing a lot of duets in church. One of the songs I remember them singing many times was entitled “His Eye Is On The Sparrow”. Written in 1905 by Civilla D. Martin and Charles Gabriel, the song is based on Matthew 10:29-31. In the scripture passage Jesus is preparing to send out His 12 disciples, knowing that they would be facing a variety of trials and difficulties in the road ahead. He reminds them that God His Father will look after and care for them along their journey, just as He feeds the sparrows each day. Jesus goes on to tell the disciples that even the hairs on their heads are all numbered. His desired goal was to reassure these disciples they would never truly be alone.
I can still hear my mom and dad singing the lyrics of that classic song!
“Why should I feel discouraged, why should the shadows come,
Why should my heart be lonely, and long for heaven and home
When Jesus is my portion? My constant Friend is He
His eye is on the sparrow, and I know He watches me;
His eye is on the sparrow, and I know He watches me.
Refrain: I sing because I’m happy, I sing because I’m free,
For His eye is on the sparrow, and I know He watches me.”
I’m amazed to think that the God of the universe watches over me! He certainly has more than enough other things to do. After all, in the larger scope of things I don’t feel like I’m particularly important. Yet the scriptures seem to confirm that He not only watches over me, but that He also cares for me. That’s mind blowing! He’s even numbered the hairs on my head (a job I seem to be making easier for him as I grow older!). Why would He make that type of investment in me?
I’d love to tell you I have that all figured out. Though I’ve been in ministry for many years and done my best to explain God’s plan and purpose in our lives, this one still has me stumped! I know I’m a nice guy and all, but over the years I’ve also been somewhat of a mess more often than I like to admit. I would think at one time or another God just wanted to turn around and walk away. I’ve given Him more than enough reason to give up on me and invest His time and energy on someone else. But He’s never done so, and He never will. Like my Garfields sitting on the shelves in my study, His eyes are open wide and He’s watching over me. And He’s doing the same thing for you!
I’m thankful today for the reminder that God is watching us! He is ever alert and aware of what is going on in our lives. Yes, He gets disappointed when we do the wrong thing, and He’s not opposed to allowing us to face the consequences of some of our incorrect or unwise choices. But He’s always watching, working in our lives in ways that we often don’t acknowledge. He’s promised to never leave us alone in this crazy world we live in, and He’s preparing a much better place for us to spend eternity. We may face obstacles and heartaches in this life, but we’re never alone. Our situation has not escaped His attention. He empathizes with our weakness, feels our pain, understands our confusion, and appreciates our uniqueness. If we could just grasp how much He cares for us, and how vigilantly He is watching over us, I think we would all be better able to face whatever life throws our way.
On a day when I wasn’t looking for any “life lessons”, I looked around my study and found one in a place I never expected! Who would have thought a stuffed Garfield could “speak” to my heart? Those open eyes today are a not so subtle reminder that God is aware of me. He knows my doubts, my fears, and my heartaches, along with my joys, my passions, and my hopes. Those little Garfields are just inanimate objects based on a comic strip, but they have reminded me once again today of a very animate God who is alive and active in my life. It’s good to know HE’S ALWAYS WATCHING ME!