I’ve seen the beauty of a new morning, and the depravity that comes with the night. I’ve seen the harsh reality that light exposes in a situation, and I’ve seen the relief of innocence that is protected in the dark. I’ve seen astounding views that show the beauty of Creation and the good in the world, and I’ve seen astounding views that show the evil man is capable of in a dying world. I’ve seen people who inspire, and I’ve seen them do what was previously impossible. I’ve seen people lose their spirits, and I’ve seen them slowly deteriorate under the weight of failure. I’ve seen people being encouraged and the moments of their transformation. I’ve seen dreams die and hearts turn hard. In my mind’s eye I’ve seen things that will never happen, alternate realities where the past happened differently, and dreams that I’m afraid to see come true. All these things that I’ve seen amount to nothing much more than images that come and go, though some are seared into my memory. But that can’t be it. There must be a reason for seeing beyond simply taking in information. And I’m afraid I don’t have the tools to do much more than just see.
I’m reading a book called Compelled by Love by Heidi Baker, a missionary who is based in Mozambique, but her ministry, Iris, has reached several more places and continues to prosper around the globe. She is an absolutely fantastic woman, and I thank God for the times I’ve been able to hear her speak, and for the hugs I have received from her. If there is anyone who knows how to love it is her, for she has received the gift to love through God, by God, and for God. To be on the receiving end of this gift is a gift in itself.
The introduction to this book tells of the moment when God opened her eyes to see the truth of the Western World – that we are more poor than those who know they are poor, for we are more hungry than those who scavenge for food, and we are more sick than those who seek a doctor. The process to that realization took years and miracles, and in the end she was completely and irreversibly changed by a new perspective, a God perspective, that called her to do something more. When I read that, my heart ached; my Spirit yearned for the ability to see the hungry, the thirsty, the tired and discouraged, for the purpose of bringing God to them. But then I stopped, realizing that I already see these things.
I’m in a university that is known for its undercurrent of depravity and loneliness and depression. Everyday I see exhausted students trudge from class to class with the only initiative of getting out. I live in a place where passion is slowly dying, that people look to things that don’t last to give them an identity that is beyond academics, and yet more who strive for this identity that is found in their academics. And yet, though I see them, and while I pray for them, I have no idea how to act. I don’t know how to reach out, how to share my joy with them, or how to make them smile. Even those I call my close friends I have trouble sharing the reason why I live, or pulling out the beauty in their own lives and showing them where God is in that. I don’t know how to give hope.
What is the point of sight when all you can do is see?
Perhaps it’s an effect of the culture we are in now, where we find it necessary to desensitize ourselves from the sadness and injustice that surrounds us for the sake of continuing with our “priorities.” In our assumed helplessness we close our eyes to the world’s pain so that we can continue with a relatively innocent, or rather naive, and light heart. We cannot continue enjoying life if we keep looking at how it is broken. Yet instead of doing something about it, we just keep walking forward, turning a blind eye to what we feel helpless to change. But now I’m stuck in that cycle of inaction, though now I have eyes to see. It’s torturous.
People tell me that I have a gift to see the beauty in life; they call it “optimism.” Perhaps that is where my call to action is. There are people like Heidi Baker who have been given the tools and the gifts to heal the sick and bring life to the weary and the dead. But perhaps I’m called to make the beauty of life stand tall among the depravity. Perhaps my gift is to call out the gifts and the talents of the people around me, and to reawaken their passions. Perhaps my gift is to show them why they can be loved, and that they are already loved. My helplessness may be because my gift is not in healing what is broken, and thus the need to see what is broken. It may be because my gift is in uncovering beauty and potential, and thus the need to see the diamond in the rough.
It feels like a small difference, yet it changes my perspective incredibly. If this is truly where God is calling my focus to be, it means giving to God what is ugly so that He can show me what is beautiful. It’s not turning away from the sadness, but finding the joy in the midst of it. It requires eyes that see deeper than most, to the heart of the matter. It requires to see God in everything.
Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.