I had a dream last night in which I was telling a neighbors daughter, who was helping her mom clear the abandoned garden, that I liked dead veggies. After a while of laboring she asked if I really liked dead veggies, she was thinking it would reduce her work if able to give me the seemingly worthless vegetables.
Some toss aside a cabbage or head of lettuce when they see wilted leaves, yet when the outer layers are removed exposing the inner leaves there is good to be found, there is still value in what outwardly seemed worthless.
Isn’t that what the Lord does with us? He looks beyond the outside appearance to what is inside. Consider the sons of Jesse, one would be anointed king. Samuel kept looking at the outside, but God looking inside rejected each until the one son, who was not even considered by his family, or even called in from the field, was brought before him, that was the one God chose. Inside the boy was a man of strength and courage who killed a lion and a bear, who would one day kill a giant who dared to defy the God of Israel; a shepherd boy who would be a man after God’s own heart.
When we see others are we looking at the outward person measuring them to our expected norms, acceptable appearance, mannerisms, and contribution to society? What about the person on the street corner holding a sign asking for money? Do we see a panhandler, a lazy person, an irresponsible deadbeat, or perhaps an unkempt drug addict? Do we take the time to stop and hear their story or just brush them off, or look away not even acknowledging their presence?
A few years back I was in Sacramento for meetings rushing from the parking garage to my location several blocks away. There was a man who looked like he had not bathed or washed his clothes in some time and appeared to be sleeping on the sidewalk next to the building. I gave a weak smile, a little nod and faint hello never slowing my pace, but his words “thank you for acknowledging me”, nearly stopped me in my tracks, they struck a nerve; is that not what we all at the core want, to be recognized? Our existence acknowledged in some small way; a kind word or look that says we matter. I think of the lepers, tax collectors, harlots, and other non-acceptable people in society, that Jesus had no qualms speaking with or even touching. He took the time to look beyond the exterior that caused others to pass by on the other side of the road, and underneath He found there was something of value; He found you and me.
Jesus tells the parable of the Good Samaritan in Luke 10, He ends it saying “Go and do likewise”.
Let’s peal some leaves and look beyond for the good…