But the Lord said to Samuel, “Do not look at his appearance or at his physical stature, because I have refused him. For the Lord does not see as man sees; for man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.” 1 Samuel 16:7 (NKJV)
Imagine how different this world would appear, if we saw it with the Lord’s eyes. Yet our eyes are corrupted by an iniquitous infection that twists this reality. Despite the spiritual decay that lambasts our souls and stigmatizes our retina, the Lord has sent His Helper to His children. The significance of this will always be understated, for it is impossible to overstate this miracle: that the God of all would commune with us. And despite our fragile fleshen forms, He wishes to fill us with His love, and teach us to see as He sees. This is our lot, until we are brand-new and have our cataracts removed. As such, I lean on and glean on His guidance, and occasionally I catch glimpses of His honor amongst us in His children: as I see with fleshy eyes and a tainted spirit, slightly corrected by His holy lens.
I perceived two people, one devoured by shadows and the other emitting God's light; I wish to compare and contrast these dissimilar souls, both of which I met this week. They are like opposite poles on a magnet that repel one another in lifestyle and outlook. I don’t believe I have met two more divergent individuals. Both of them are struggling with life setbacks, one more of his own making, and the other by nature of her birthplace. On the one hand a man of superficial outward strength, and on the other, a woman of veiled inward strength. It is interesting how two people encumbered in a similar happenstance would react so differently to the world around them: One with anger whose desire is for himself, and the other with love whose desire is for others. Equally interesting is how the fallen world would measure them, if it happened to share a moment in their company.
I ventured into the inner city to meet up with a friend that is struggling with homelessness, and while at a soup kitchen he introduced me to one of the individuals I referred too.
As seen with earthly eyes: Mark walked in through the front door and started looking for a seat to sit on. He is homeless and this shelter is his preferred place to eat. People seemed frightened of him. I’ve spent many days in a gym, and Mark was the biggest body builder I’ve ever seen. His arms were 21 inches thick: Which is like a teenager’s waist. His trapezoids touched his ears, and his chest and lats where like sides of beef. I am unsure if he could walk through a door without turning one shoulder forward and the other back. He was a monster who had overinflated himself with copious amounts of steroids … to the point where he looked surreal, more like a cartoon caricature of a man. He walked and acted in a way to draw attention onto himself.
He rotated his sleeping habits between sleeping on the streets and sharing a bed with numerous women enamoured by his physique. The frequent one-night-stands seemed to further his perceived self-worth. He was such an odd compilation … the homeless body builder; well dressed, well groomed, a good looking face, and a physical gargantuar. He preferred to spend his days in the gym instead of working. Work would distract from his size which would in turn diminish his self-worth. His need to feel physically superior actually hindered his ability to achieve employment. And the exercitation of this ego made him subsequently unemployable. I have never met someone whose desire for physical grandeur had actually made them homeless. His was a pride gone awry.
Mark was powerful looking; Strong looking. He carried himself with confidence and had a trigger temper. The previous week he had apparently exploded in a rage and terrified the mission. This week he seemed to receive special treatment based on his prior antics … as volunteers quickly offered him a level of service I’ve never seen before in a soup kitchen. A man came over with a pitcher of milk, filled Mark’s glass and put the pitcher beside him for refills. Another man would refill his glass whenever it was half full. Everyone appeared to walk on egg shells around him. Mark had taken a seat next to me, and I gave a friendly greeting. Without acknowledging me, he verbally disparaged me and looked down on me (he tinged my anger and I flared up, but that’s a story for a different blog post). What’s important was how he challenged a stranger and symbolically spit in my face without provocation. Because of his demeanour, and because of his Olympic proportions, he was feared and garnered some form of odd respect. Due to his powerful presence and the strength of his personae, he was someone people regarded as powerful and wished to emulate. Yet he was the littlest man I have ever met.
Mark was a narcissist. His world was built around pleasing himself. His ego was more grotesquely inflated than his body; he fancied himself the epitome of a tough guy, and refused to take any inconvenience from anyone. I know what a tough guy is, and this isn’t it. A strong man is strong for those around him, not for himself. In fact, when Mark was younger, he was too tough to listen to his parents. And now he’s too tough to listen to an employer. 30 years old, physically strong enough to lift an Honda, and he’s homeless and hooked on meth. All his time and all his money is spent on himself. He is the sun and everything revolves around him.
He is a contradiction; a visual alpha male incapable of supporting himself, let alone helping others. His spirit is so weak that he cannot see God, only himself. His mind is so fragile; that he cannot relate to people around him, for fear that his virtual reality would be obliterated: that he would see his insufficiency and need for Another.
As seen with spiritual eyes: Mark is on life support. His legs are so weak he is incapable of walking. He is skinny, transparent, fragile, sickly … he is barely breathing. His every thought is of himself. He has squandered all that has been entrusted to him upon himself.
And then there is Anna, the other person I referred too that is the polar opposite of Mark. My sister is so luminous she burns my eyes. A magnificent woman whose strength humbles Atlas: who fictitiously carried the earth upon his shoulders.
Anna as seen through earthen eyes: Anna is little, 5 foot 0 and 100 pounds. She is the eldest of 7 siblings. Her family is impoverished and lives in the Philippines. She is not affluent and fairly poor. And Anna has a troublesome and serious heart condition.
As seen through my teary eyes: When she was 18 years old, she could not marry her love. Her family’s impoverished state prompted her to selflessly give up her relationship and to seek employment in another country. For 15 years she has worked in a foreign land as a nanny and sent the money back home to her family. Her father became sick and Anna took the medical expenses upon herself to treat him. Anna became sick but did not have the luxury to stop working. Her family needs her. Although she is greatly indebted and very sick, she refuses to stop sending her family money. She even refuses to tell her family that she is ill, because Anna does not want them to worry about her.
I could tell you many stories about Anna that would leave you in humbled bewilderment. Suffice it to say, she pours her life into those around her. The extent of which, I don’t fully understand. How she could be so selfless at the expense of her own well-being and future, and unwilling to even let those she sacrifices for, know of the depths of her sacrifice for them. As such, she doesn’t even receive recognition and honor for it. She burns my eyes when I look at her.
As seen through spiritual eyes: Anna is a giant of massive proportions; she has strength to move mountains. My sister is so fragile and so weak by outward appearances, yet she is spiritually unmoved by the world around her. It slaps her, mocks her, and she cries but shames it with her love. Her strength is in God, not herself. She leans on the Master, not her own devices. She worships Him every morning, singing songs of praise. She walks daily, holding the Father’s hand. Her physical heart is weak, but her spiritual heart channels love to those around her.
She shared with me a long term goal. She wished, when she had managed to pay off her considerably large debt, to save money to help her nephew have a better life. She makes 500 dollars a month, sends money back home to her family, is paying medical expenses for her failing health and for her fathers: and her ambition (for when her debt is finally paid off) isn’t to have “me” time, or to spoil herself because she deserves it. It isn’t to try and better her own condition, but to instead help her nephew.
Two people walk into a room. The first one is a man so physically strong that he dents the door knob as he turns it. The world stares in admiration of his presence. He is a physical tiger by outward appearances. Yet spiritually, he is a dying neonatal kitten. The second person, no one notices. She is a tiny, unhealthy physical specimen. Her entire body would weigh as much as the first guy’s arm. Yet, her soul touches God, and as such, she could bench-press the universe. I wish the world would see with God’s eyes.