Through God’s Eyes

When Susan Boyle stepped onto the stage of the show “Britain’s Got Talent” a few weeks ago, she was immediately dismissed by the judges because of her dowdy, frumpy appearance. She wore a matronly dress, her hair was untamed, and she looked older than her 47 years. Skepticism and a bit of contempt were on the judges faces as they awaited her performance. When Susan began her rendition of “I Dreamed a Dream” from the musical “Les Miserables,” the judges faces of contempt turned to shock, awe, and then actual joy. All during her performance, Simon Cowell, known for his blunt and often controversial criticisms, was actually grinning. Since her debut that night, the YouTube clip of Susan’s performance has been viewed by over 50 million people world-wide.

Susan grew up poor in a small Scottish village with her parents and 8 brothers and sisters. Bullied throughout her school years because of a learning disability, she retreated to her private world of music. In her later years, she has devoted herself to caring for her ailing mother and volunteering at her Catholic Parish.

By the world’s standards Susan has led an unremarkable life. Yet because of the opportunity to share her great gift of singing on British television, her life has already had an impact on the world, and most likely will continue to do so.

The Old Testament tells the story of another person who knew what it was liked to be judged by outward appearances. In the book of 1 Samuel, the prophet Samuel travels to the house of Jesse in the town of Bethlehem to anoint the new king at the Lord’s instructions. Samuel takes one look at Jesse’s eldest son Eliab and says, “Surely this is the LORD’s anointed.”

“But the LORD said to Samuel, “Don’t judge by his appearance or height, for I have rejected him. The LORD doesn’t see things the way you see them. People judge by outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.”

Each one of Jesse’s seven sons was presented to Samuel and all were rejected by God. It was not until the youngest son, David, bursts into the house, smelling like sheep and with a ruddy appearance that God says, “This is the one; anoint him.” What David lacked in physical appearance, he made up for by having a heart that belonged wholly to God.

It is easy to judge people based on their outward appearance. We all do it, and yet we do not want to be judged in the same way.

My friend Debbie has something in common with Susan Boyle. She knows what it is like to be judged harshly because of appearance. A car accident at the age of twelve left her with a physical disability and a speech impediment. She is talented and smart; however her talents are not as pronounced as Susan’s. She will never be on You Tube or the BBC. She loves to sing but will never audition for Simon Cowell either in the United States or Britain.

Debbie’s greatest talent is her service. Though walking is a challenge for her because of her disability, she arrives each Thursday afternoon between 1pm and 2pm to fold bulletins; sometimes walking here from across town. She and I spend about an hour together each week folding the bulletin and chatting about life, her love of cats, and whatever the headlines of the day may be. Week by week, piece by piece, she has unfolded her story for me. She can be a bit distrustful of people because the mistreatment she has received over the years. Yet she has come to trust me and I look forward to her visits each week.

I have learned a lot from Debbie in the years she has been volunteering. She is patient and persevering. Though the stares and taunts of others are hurtful to her, she continues to go about her life finding joy in serving others; both people and animals. She has taught me that everyone has worth and value in God’s eyes, and hidden talents can be discovered in others if we but take the time to uncover them.

John 7:24 : “Do not judge by appearances, but judge with right judgment.”

Advertisements

Just a Little Talk With Jesus

I had a conversation with the Lord the other morning. It was 4 a.m. and this particular morning it was not the pains of arthritis nor the hot flashes of menopause which were keeping me awake. It was the heartbreak of ministry.

“I am frustrated and downtrodden by ministry, Lord. I want to quit.”

“Yes, I know.” He said. “You usually do not meet Me this early.”

“I’m weary.” I said to the Lord.

“I know how you feel.” He replied.

“Did you grow weary of ministry, Lord?” I asked.

“Yes, I did.” He said. “But I continued on anyways.”

And I remembered how He had wanted to go away and rest after his friend John the Baptist was killed. But the crowds of people would not leave him alone. Instead of going to the mountaintop to rest, He stayed on the shore. He taught the people and fed them and went to the mountain top when the teaching and the feeding were done.

“I had compassion for My people,” He said. “And so should you.”

“But when do I get to rest, Lord?” I asked.

“Later,” He replied, “now get up. I have a word for you.”

So I left my warm, cozy bed and retreated to the den. I opened my Bible to see what the Lord wanted to say to me, and this is what I read:

The LORD (Yahweh) is my shepherd; I have everything I need.

I have everything I NEED right now, today, this moment. I have everything I need for the moment. He gives me all I need when I need it.

 

He lets me rest in green meadows; he leads me beside peaceful streams. He renews my strength.

 

After several trips to Hawaii, I have come to believe that it is the most beautiful place on earth. It is green, peaceful, and restful. As corny as it sounds, Yahweh is my Hawaii. I don’t have to have to fly across the ocean and spend hundreds of dollars to find true rest.

He guides me along right paths, bringing honor to his name.

 

When we first moved to Paso Robles, I would often get lost learning to navigate country roads. If my children were in the car they would get distressed and anxiously ask, “Mom, do you know where you’re going? Are we looossst!” I would always reply, “No, we’re not lost. God knows right where we are and He’ll get us home. In the meantime, we are having an  ADVENTURE!”

The Lord is my GPS system. I don’t need to wonder or worry about which road to travel on. He has it all mapped out for me and has had my journey planned since the dawn of time. By following the path He has laid out for me, God is glorified. Being on the right path is not my doing but all God’s. The fact that I have the ability to take my next breath is all due to His grace. I must set aside my pride and my self importance. Any thoughts that I have accomplished anything in my life is merely an illusion as it has all been God.

Even when I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will not be afraid, for you are close beside me. Your rod and your staff protect and comfort me.

 

My first real walk through the valley of death came four years with my mother’s death. When Mom first became ill, I had fleeting thoughts of doubt. What if it is not real? What if there is no heaven? What if I won’t see her again? How can I possibly walk this path?  But when I needed God the most, He was there. At the moment of her passing His presence flooded my soul. He walked through that valley with me and prodded me with His staff when I was tempted to “camp” in the valley instead of “walk through it.” We all must face death, but because of Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross, we only face its shadow.

You prepare a feast for me in the presence of my enemies. You welcome me as a guest, anointing my head with oil. My cup overflows with blessings. Surely your goodness and unfailing love will pursue me all the days of my life, and I will live in the house of the LORD forever.

 

A wise and caring shepherd continually anoints his flock of sheep with oil. The oil prevents pests and insects from bothering the sheep. It is also used to heal wounds, prevent disease, and to prevent serious damage when the sheep butt heads together. Oil is often used as a symbol of the Holy Spirit. How lucky I am that the Lord anoints me daily with His Spirit to heal my wounds and keep me free from sin. His love will pursue me all my days and I have the assurance that I will live with Him forever.

I closed my Bible and with a renewed heart I prayed. “Thank you, Lord, for your Word.” I prayed. “I have never looked at this beautiful song this way before. Thank you for the strength to continue on the path you have chosen for me. Thank you for the divine rest You give my weary soul; a rest that comes only from being still and letting You cradle me close to Your heart. Thank you for being my Shepherd. Help me to shepherd the flock you have given me with the same tenderness and compassion You have for me. Thank you that I can call you by name, my Yahweh. Amen”