By David Faust
Several years ago my daughter Michelle started making art projects using ordinary objects she finds in the woods and creeks near her home in southwestern Ohio. I’m amazed at the beautiful creations she designs with pinecones, acorns, fossil rocks, and other natural materials. Her crafts have grown into a small business (www.etsy.com/shop/FairyCreekLane) with the tagline, “Handmade from my backyard to yours.” But even more, they have opened my eyes to a wealth of interesting items I tend to overlook.
On the farm where I grew up, fossil rocks were everywhere. I saw them every day, tramped on them mindlessly, and skimmed them across the surface of a pond, but I never saw anything special in them. Michelle has helped me recognize the simple beauty of the brachiopods, horn corals, and trilobites spread along my path.
God is the consummate artist. He scatters random objects of beauty onto the earth, littering the soil with multi-colored leaves in the fall, then covering the ground with a white blanket of snow that eventually melts away. In the spring, flowers and trees perfume the air with fragrance, delight our eyes with buds and blossoms, and cool the air with shade. Yet natural wonders like these are so commonplace that we hardly notice them. Even worse, we tend to overlook the pinnacle of God’s creative handiwork: the people who interact with us day after day.
When you eat in a restaurant, how do you treat the servers? Do you see them as individuals with hopes and dreams, problems and burdens? When you encounter police officers or other public safety workers, do you think not only about the role they play in society, but also their families who rely on them at home?
Often we view others in utilitarian terms, as if their main value lies in the functions they perform for us. We expect them to teach us, feed us, clean up after us, fix things for us, and keep us safe. But the Lord calls us to see the people around us the way he sees them—as unique, priceless human beings made in his image, filled with spiritual potential. They are souls for whom Christ died, and they will live eternally in Heaven or in Hell. They are our potential friends, coworkers and co-worshippers, brothers and sisters in Christ.
Jesus noticed people. In the midst of a jostling crowd, a sick woman reached for the hem of his garment and he felt her touch. In the midst of a stressful schedule when Jesus was in high demand, he took the time to bless little children. He spotted a short fellow sitting in a tree and went to dinner at Zacchaeus’s house. Traveling past a cemetery, he responded with transforming love to a miserable, tormented outcast who lived among the tombs in shame and isolation.
Isaiah 61:1-3 predicted the Messiah’s ministry of compassion. The poor? Christ will bring them good news. The brokenhearted? He will bind up their wounds. The imprisoned? He will free them from darkness. The desperate and grieving? He will bestow on them “a crown of beauty instead of ashes” and comfort them with “the oil of joy.”
People who need God’s love are all around us, but the demonstration of divine love starts with a simple act: notice them.
David Faust serves as the Associate Minister at East 91st Street Christian Church in Indianapolis, Indiana.
Based on International Sunday School Lesson, © 2012, by the Lesson Committee. Scripture quotations are from the New International Version ©2011, unless otherwise indicated.
|April 11||M.||Isaiah 61:1-7||Completeness in God|
|April 12||T.||Jeremiah 31:21, 31-35||Renewed Relationship|
|April 13||W.||Psalm 119:41-48||Steadfast Love|
|April 14||T.||1 Corinthians 9:19-27||Disciplined Freedom|
|April 15||F.||Romans 8:1-11||Freedom in the Spirit|
|April 16||S.||Philippians 2:1-11||Christian Freedom|
|April 17||S.||Luke 8:26-36||Thinking Clearly|