The large, plain, shredded linen fabric hangs from a horizontal bar high above the floor. Another one hangs beside it, fully intact with the picture of an object printed on the linen. A small fan gently blows a subtle breeze at those hanging linens allowing them to move with irregular patterns of motion.
Question: When we look, do we see? When we look at the faces of our kids, our grandkids, our puppy, our boss, our customers, what do we SEE?
- I know we see business or casual dress, the vehicle they drive (and judgements of why they are driving that), the position in life that they hold, all the way to who introduced us.
- I know we see a person who may be just getting out of college, or getting a little grey, to a snow-white head of hair.
- We see someone with an irregular walk, someone who can’t walk at all, someone who has no limbs so they can’t walk, someone who has a prosthesis who can manage some level of mobility.
- We see people with masks, people with no mask, people with two masks…..
- We see people who speak with a language or accent that reveals an origin that isn’t local. Then we see that person differently.
- We see people with different pigment colors of skin or the iris of the eyes. These variations and possibilities are extraordinary.
- We see the houses others live in, and make judgements about that observation in our own minds.
- We look at their smile.
- We watch their actions.
- We witness their generosity, thoughtfulness, and humility in real time.
- We are the receivers of their hospitality.
- We see who takes the high road in negotiations and who doesn’t.
- We recognize there is something different about that person.
Remember, houses, cars, furnishings, investments, and even are own earthly temples are just stuff. They will either all go to someone else after we leave this earth, or it will burn.
What won’t go away or burn up are our heavenly contributions aligning in what Jesus said. A simple glass of water may be more important than a vacation in the Bahamas. A kind word, or strong shoulder in a time of grief can be more valuable than multiple financial instruments.
Only a few people can remember that the Kansas City Chiefs won Super Bowl 4. But everyone can remember that person who was right there beside us in a moment of great need. One time, I personally lost almost everything financially in 2008 in the crash. Many reasons that don’t need discussion. But I approached a friend of mine (Gary) with my situation and asked, “How much do you need?” I was in tears when I asked, because it was so embarrassing. He told me without hesitation, “I will have a check ready tomorrow afternoon. I told him that I hadn’t told him any number. He said, “The check will have the date, your name, and my signature. You simply fill in the amount you want.” (I am personally in tears again re-living that extraordinary moment in time.)
- Do you think I will forget that? Do you think I will forget him?
- Do you think I will overlook the everyday flaws humans have, especially him?
- Do you think I will be incredibly grateful for him being a fellow believer, and being led by the Spirit?
- Do you think I cared about what he drove or where he lived?
- Do you think I cared if he lost his temper that morning, or had a fight with one of his kids?
- The only thing I thought of was a man, a believer, a generous soul, an understanding heart, and an extension of the essence Jesus exemplified.
The breeze blew on the linens. The strong light revealed an image on the intact linen that was the face of a person who wanted the limelight. He wanted to be noticed. He wanted to be sought after for personal promotion. His actions all pointed in his direction. Yet behind the shredded linen one, I saw Jesus standing behind the blowing shreds. The fan blowing the narrow strips randomly, exposing the outstretched arms of our Lord and Savior. At the end of our earthly existence, the fan stops and our linens hang still in time. When the side where the shredded linen strips were, they fall still all collectively in line, it revealed the image of Gary.
See, when the winds of trouble blow, when we are hammered on the anvils of adversity, when there seems there is no way out; the ones who allow Jesus to be SEEN through their actions will be cherished indeed. We will always remember the ones who were there for us, and we can’t forget who wasn’t. But we know that the forgiveness, patience, mercy, and love in our hearts will be that spiritual ointment that will heal someone!
“Lord, Allow our imperfect linens to reveal You in our lives!!!! In Jesus’ Name, Amen.”