Do you see what I see?

George Seurat spent over two years, painting “A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of Grand Jette.”    It is nearly 7 by 10 feet and occupies an entire wall in the Art Institute of Chicago.  The painting depicts a lovely landscape with lakeside visitors, including people in 1896 garb, complete with dogs and even a pet monkey in front of a lady in the foreground.  

Standing at the entrance to the hall where the painting is hung, you can feel a part of the lovely, sunny afternoon in Paris. 

georges_seurat_-_a_sunday_on_la_grande_jatte_-_1884_-_google_art_project

[Copy of picture obtained from Wikimedia: By Georges Seurat – twGyqq52R-lYpA at Google Cultural Institute maximum zoom level, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=22319969%5D

But stand closer and all you see are yellow, red and blue dots, each carefully positioned to contribute to the painting as a whole.  Seurat believed that this form of painting, called divisionism at the time but now known as pointillism, would make the colors more brilliant and powerful than standard brushstrokes.  His painting teaches us a valuable lesson in perspective.

Sometimes, you have to back away from a situation to get the full picture. 

Jesus understood this.  For example, the people were crying “Hosanna” and “Blessed is the King who comes in the name of the Lord” while He was riding on the back of the donkey in what is called “His Triumphal Entry”. 

And when he drew near and saw the city, he wept over it, saying, “Would that you, even you, had known on this day the things that make for peace! But now they are hidden from your eyes.

Luke 19:41-42

Jesus wept because of their unbelief and the coming judgment of which they were completely unaware.  He wept because the very people proclaiming allegiance to the King would become the same people who would cry out demanding His crucifixion in just a few days.  He wept because the people were clamoring for release from Roman bondage when their real need was release from the bondage of sin, but this need was not even on their radar screen.

He stood afar and looked at the entire scene unfolding before Him, and recognized that the people were clamoring after that which would do no good and that they were ignoring the relief that He could bring which would do eternal good.

But then there are times when you must get into the picture to see what is going on – you must get into the dirt and grime of the situation in order to assist those who are helpless by themselves.

Jesus understood this too.  For example, at other times, He participated in the situation itself, getting close to those involved in the conflict.  In John 8:3-11 we read of the following encounter:

The scribes and the Pharisees brought a woman who had been caught in adultery, and placing her in the midst – they said to him, “Teacher, this woman has been caught in the act of adultery.  Now in the Law Moses commanded us to stone such women. So what do you say?”  This they said to test him, that they might have some charge to bring against him. Jesus bent down and wrote with his finger on the ground.  And as they continued to ask him, he stood up and said to them, “Let him who is without sin among you be the first to throw a stone at her.”  But when they heard it, they went away one by one, beginning with the older ones, and Jesus was left alone with the woman standing before him.   Jesus stood up and said to her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?”  She said, “No one, Lord.” And Jesus said, “Neither do I condemn you; go, and from now on sin no more.”

Jesus got into the mix with the scribes and Pharisees.  What He wrote in the sand we don’t know, but it was possible that He was listing the sins of those who were the woman’s accusers.  I can imagine that the accusers were so convicted when they saw that Jesus knew their sins and had listed them in the writing on the ground that they just wanted to get away from the situation.  No longer were they intent on getting this woman for her sin.  Rather, they all left the woman alone and unharmed with Jesus. 

Then, when He addressed the woman, He, who could have condemned her because He was without sin, extended grace and mercy by letting her go with the command not to sin any more.

He stood close by the woman and saw the entire situation.   Sometimes what you see depends on where you stand. 

A famous Christmas song is entitled “Do you hear what I hear?”.  Here it is as sung on the Nashville A Capella Album Christmas. 

The first verse asks “Do you see what I see?”.  When I hear that song I hear my Lord saying “Linda, do you see what I see?  Do you see the hurting, the lost, the wanderer?  Do you see the one needing assistance who I put in your path because she was too timid to ask for help?  Do you see what I see?  If so, how are you responding; what are you doing to do about it!”   

May we seek our perspective from Him who provides help far surpassing our own limited abilities.  Seek the Lord and lean on His wisdom rather than your own.  Sometimes, you have to back away from a situation to get the full picture, and sometimes you have to get involved to see the real problem. 

 

Either way, I pray that we will stand where Christ places us, and that we will have eyes that see that which He sees so that our hands can do that which He directs, through His power and for His glory alone.       

 

Father, I pray that You will position me so that I see that which You want me to see.  May I be close enough to feel the pain and to assist in relieving stress and discomfort, if that is what You call me to do.  May I back up so I am far enough away from a situation so that I can see the whole picture, and then have an understanding about how to resolve or alleviate the difficulty, if that is what You call me to do.  May I do all that You ask and may I do it to my very best ability, for Your glory and honor.

HIDING IN PLAIN SIGHT!

Most of us have heard the question “Where’s Waldo?”  The subject of the inquiry is the location of a fictitious character named Waldo who hides in the midst of chaos – hides in plain sight.

For many years, we had a canine son named Skippy.  The humorous stories associated with Skippy are legion, especially since he was over 18 years old when he died.  One Christmas, after the family had torn open the presents, we took the following picture and named it “Where’s Skippy?”

Where's Skippy?
Where’s Skippy?

Now, we have “Where’s Waldo” when Cuddles bundles herself under a blanket and it is only after calling her name that her head comes out from her hiding place.  Here she is in her “you can’t see me now” pose.

“Where’s Waldo” is not the only hiding in plain sight phenomenon, however.  There is also the condition we call “Refrigerator Blindness” and it appears that the majority of the men in my family are afflicted with it.  No doctor will diagnose it and no eyeglasses will correct it.  It is a condition where the man will be asked to obtain something from the refrigerator, closet, pantry, well almost anywhere.  He will look for it and come back without it, usually saying “It isn’t there.”  [It seems that this condition does not affect vision for the retrieval of anything related to the car, garage, Pep Boys or the automotive section of Walmart.]

Our grandsons are afflicted with this condition.  When the family comes to visit, I will ask them to get their pajamas, and, uniformly, they will return still in their street clothes.

Me:  “Where are your jammies?”

Them:  “I can’t find them.”

Me:  “They are in your suitcase.”

Them:  “Oh.”

They go upstairs and return in their street clothes.

Me:  “You aren’t in your jammies.”

Them:  “I can’t find them.”

Me:  “They are in your suitcase.”

Them:  “No they aren’t.”

Me:  “Yes they are – I put them in there myself.  Go look in the suitcase for your jammies.”

They go upstairs and come back in their jammies.

Me:  “Where were they?”

Them:  “In the suitcase.”

Our most recent incident of Refrigerator Blindness occurred this morning when the calendar reminded us that Cuddles and Snickers were due to take their flea and heartworm monthly medicine.

Cuddles and Snickers at the window, on guard?
Cuddles and Snickers at the window, on guard?

This medicine is stored in its box, with the name splayed across the top, in a closet that has shelves on both sides for storage of a wide variety of things, such as sheets, office materials, etc.

After perusing the supply closet in pursuit of the canine tablets, my Beloved asked where I had put them.   I responded that the two boxes (one box for each dog) were on the shelf in the closet.  As I turned to look in the closet where he was standing, I noticed that he had apparently exhausted looking at the shelf with most of the little things on it and had moved his gaze to the shelf with the sheets and towels.  Knowing that dog medicine would not be mixed in with the linen, I went into the closet.

Refrigerator Blindness had struck with a vengeance. The box, with the labeled side facing him, was on the second shelf at eye level for my Beloved.  If there had been a hand sticking out of the box, it likely would have hit him in the face.  I said something like “You’re kidding me, right?”, and pointed directly to the box.  His face revealed that he was not, in fact, kidding but that he actually had missed seeing the box altogether.

While this is a glimpse into our family life that you may or may not want to have, it has application to our spiritual life. We all can have spiritual Refrigerator Blindness, and not just the men/boys/children either.

  • How often has our Beloved Lord Jesus Christ given us blessings which we did not see and for which we did not give thanks.  Through the Prophet Jeremiah, God said:

Hear this, you foolish and senseless people, who have eyes but do not see, who have ears but do not hear: Jeremiah 5:21

In Matthew 13:13-14 Jesus said:

This is why I speak to them in parables: “Though seeing, they do not see; though hearing, they do not hear or understand. In them is fulfilled the prophecy of Isaiah: ‘You will be ever hearing but never understanding; you will be ever seeing but never perceiving.’

In 1 Corinthians 9:22-23, Paul says:

 To the weak I became weak, to win the weak. I have become all things to all men so that by all possible means I might save some. I do all this for the sake of the gospel, that I may share in its blessings.

  • How often have we relied on His grace that He has given to us so richly, and we don’t even praise His name in gratitude for His mercy and love.  Proverbs 3:34 says:

“He mocks proud mockers but gives grace to the humble.”

The Apostle John says:

“From the fullness of his grace we have all received one blessing after another.”  John 1:16.

 

In Romans 3:21-24 we read:

But now a righteousness from God, apart from law, has been made known, to which the Law and the Prophets testify.  This righteousness from God comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference, for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.

  • How often have we seen a person in need but we have moved right on ahead with our own agenda because his/her need did not register on our own personal spiritual Richter scale?
  • How often have we been approached by sinners who are hiding in plain sight.  They mix in with everyone and it is hard to find them in the crush of people, schedules and day-to-day requirements that we have.

Lord,  forgive me; give me the grace

  • to see those in need around me;
  • to see the brother or sister who desires to know the Lord but does not have the right vocabulary to express the need;
  • to see people as you see them, Lord.  Take the scales off my eyes so that I see people as you see them, and then give me the grace to witness freely to anyone You put in my path.

Then thank Him with a heart full of gratitude for His mercy, compassion and love.