Everyone wants to be seen and to be heard. We often forget to see the images of God all around us, begging to be noticed through the noisy intersections of life.
“The best and most beautiful things in the world cannot be seen or even touched. They must be felt with the heart.” – Helen Keller
Throughout much of my life, it has been easy to view other people as competition rather than image bearers of the invisible God. Whether competing for career advancement, the admiration of the same girl, or the praise of others, it’s easier to see another person as a roadblock, rather than to see them as an eternal spiritual being loved by God.
Yet, despite myself, there are some days where my vision is clear. One such day happened this week as I was walking back to my apartment from a nearby store. Approaching me, I saw an aged man, wearing a hat that said “U.S. Navy”. As I drew closer, he smiled at me, revealing a mouth a few teeth short of a full set. For whatever reason, I said, “How are you? Were you once in the Navy?” His demeanor swiftly changed to a mild form of excitement. The next 10 minutes were filled with short stories of a war-torn soul, from an intense encounter with Navy Seals to his time spent in Vietnam.
After parting, I was thinking to myself, “That was a breath of life, to acknowledge someone I would often walk right past.” Something was just plain right about stopping the busyness of my day to acknowledge the spiritual reality of another soul. The mere fact that he trusted me with his stories said he was acknowledging me, as well.
One of the greatest tragedies is that we have placed much greater value on external appearances and material success, ignoring the eternal soul in each human being.
Why do we miss these opportunities to make visible what is invisible to the naked eye? As a follower of Jesus, I truly believe we are created with much more than this flesh and bone. We are invisible spirits living in a visible world. Somehow, our spirit is able to sense another human being for who they truly are, if we would only stop to listen.
One of my favorite memories in my three years of working at Starbucks happened during a conversation with a regular customer named Himanshu (we called him Chewy). We would often talk, laughing and catching up while making his coffee. Yet, this day, I was heavily weighed down by anxiety, which Chewy happened to notice. He asked if I was alright and I felt safe enough to tell him “Not really”. After getting his coffee, he left the store, only to return a few moments later with a gift card to a nearby men’s salon and massage lounge. Someone had given it to him, but he wanted to be an encouragement to my soul through a simple, yet powerful gesture. He saw me for who I was, not just some lesser known barista serving beverages in a coffee shop.
In the Scriptures, God reminds us that He cares far much more for our true selves, rather than the faux images we project.
“But the Lord said to Samuel, ‘Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The Lord does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.’” – 1 Samuel 16:7
As we go about our days, what if we began searching for the invisible fingerprints of God on each life we encounter?
How would our competitive nature shift in a world sick with success?
How might we impact the lives of others for their good?
There’s a great possibility we would begin seeing humanity through brand new eyes.