When I wrote this blog, our lives looked different than they do today. Without much warning, we are now reacting to the coronavirus pandemic and many of us feel overwhelmed. Perhaps you feel challenged by what it means to love an out-of-work family member or a sick neighbor. Maybe the fear of exposure plagues you and you struggle with being overly self-protective. Or perhaps you are on the other end of the spectrum and tend to overlook the valid fears of people who are at risk. No matter how you are responding to this crisis, we all need, now more than ever, to be diligent in seeing the people God has placed in front of us and finding ways to care for them.
As I read the gospels, I am struck by how attuned Jesus is to the people around him. Many encounters start with the simple introduction of who he sees.
- Jesus sees Andrew and Peter following him, and he engages their inquiring hearts (John 1:38).
- Jesus sees Nathanael and encourages his devout worship (John 1:47-50).
- Jesus sees the paralyzed man and heals him (John 5:6–10).
- Jesus sees the hungry crowd and feeds them (John 6:5–11).
- Jesus sees the grief of Mary and Martha and weeps with them (John 11:33).
As Jesus looks around, his eyes are active and engaged. He notices people. And he looks long enough to see people’s physical and spiritual needs. But what he sees is just the start of the story; he then moves in and is present with them.
My question is: Is this true of me? There are many days when I am distracted and don’t notice the people around me. My eyes are open, but my brain is elsewhere. There are other days when I choose to look past the people around me and toward something I deem more essential or enchanting.
Jesus lived a life that was practiced at seeing. So much so, that even as he hung on the cross, experiencing intense and unrelenting pain, he saw his mother in distress and asked his friends to care for her (John 19:26). At that point, we would not expect him to be noticing others, but he did. As he struggled for breath, he would have been right to focus on the much more significant and critical task of securing our eternal union with God. But even at that moment, Jesus sees the people around him and cares for them.
I want to grow in this. I want to notice the precious people that the Lord has surrounded me with. But it is not easy to do. There are so many things that compete for my attention. There have been moments I have been too engrossed with a task, or something on my phone, to even look up! Yet, I am challenged by how the gospel writers bring us into Jesus’ line of sight, and how what Jesus sees directs his next steps. So I must ask myself, who is in my midst that I am not seeing? I continue to ask the Lord to give me his eyes to see.
And I assume I am not alone in this. Do you hide behind the shield of busyness, thinking that what you are engaged in at the moment is more important than those the Lord has placed in your path? I do. Seeing takes work. It means looking away from myself (and what I am doing) and entering into the world of another. And it takes practice. Here are a few questions to get you (and me) started:
- Are you, like me, failing to see?
- What captures your attention as you move through your day?
- What do you notice yourself looking at?
- Are you careful with what steals your attention?
- Do you see your affection growing for what you spend time seeing (both good and bad)?
It helps me to know that Jesus sees me even now. We are never alone as he invites us to see and bless the people he places in our midst. I want to grow in doing what Jesus himself did. Will you pray with me that we grow in seeing?