Recently, I wrote, illustrated, and published my first children’s book. It was about my granddaughter and her favorite stuffed toy, and also about goodness, beauty, and talking weeping willow trees. I published it myself through an online publishing company. I was talking with a friend about it a couple of weeks ago.
“It seems a small thing.” I mused, “The world’s falling apart, and I’m drawing pictures of stuffed animals for my grandkids.”
“Yes, but you see them!” she said to me. “You really see them.”
“Wow, I never thought about it like that. I hope that’s true!” said I; and though I hadn’t thought about it before, those words have haunted and challenged me ever since.
Now, the concept of really seeing people is popping up everywhere! We went to the movies the other night, and in one of the previews, a young girl who was forced into the entertainment industry is about to commit suicide by jumping off a balcony. A policeman rushes in to rescue her, and as she’s dangling from the balcony, slipping away to certain death as his hand desperately grasps her fingers, he says to her,
“I see you! I really see you!”
Being seen by this handsome officer, she, of course, chooses to live and is pulled up into his strong, safe embrace.
Then this week as I was tutoring a high school student, the teen fiction book we were studying referred to homeless people sometimes being “invisible” to the people who walk by, choosing not to really see them.
This concept of seeing people is meaningful both in our pop culture and in our spiritual culture. Each one of us wants to be seen. I love the story of Hagar in Genesis 16. Hagar has run away to the desert after being mistreated by Sarah. The Lord finds her and gives her a promise for her future. She is so moved by the Lord’s love for her that she gives him a special name in Genesis 16:13:
“You are the God who sees me.”
God sees every one of us. He sees the Palestinians and the Jews. He sees the immigrants and the Americans. He sees the Syrians, the Ukrainians, the Russians, the Iraqis, the Kurds, the Nigerians, the Liberians, and all of the people suffering at this time in history.
Jesus came to show us what God is like. He had a way of seeing people that others either didn’t notice or chose to avoid. Included in this long list were diminutive tax collectors up in trees, Samaritan divorcees hanging around wells in the blazing sun, unclean women hiding in a crowd reaching for just the hem of his garment, beggars, little children, lepers, and prostitutes. Lately, it has been my prayer that God will help me truly see people as Jesus did. Maybe I can’t see people in other parts of the world as God does; but I can pray to the God who does see them, and I can ask Him to open my eyes to really see the people around me in my family, my church, and my community.