Life is interesting in the Buegler household, right now. With Nathan being a high school senior this fall, he is in the thick of the college search process. Every day brings 4-8 pieces of mail from colleges and universities all over the country, trying to catch his attention and make their case that their campus might be where he would thrive.
It brings back memories of my own college selection process. As a junior, I really wasn’t all that sure where I was going to go. It’s a big decision. When asked where I wanted to go? My answer was always: “I dunno.” I did know this, however: I wasn’t going to Gustavus Adolphus College in St. Peter. Nope. It wasn’t going to happen. Both my Mom and my Dad had gone there. They’d loved it, and I’d spent much of my childhood hearing the stories. My grandfather had gone there. He had been the salutatorian in 1912, and he loved to talk about his days on “the hill.”
So, I was headed elsewhere. This was the case, even though, Gustavus would have been a great choice for me…the size, academic programs and campus life was exactly what I was looking for. But no way, was I heading to my parent’s college.
It was actually a conversation with my pastor, Pastor Phil, that helped me sort through this. I’d explained my conundrum to him: “Yes, it’s a good school…but I’m not going to where my parents went.” “Well, where do you want to go then?” he asked. “I dunno.”
I remember that he said something like, “you know Todd, if you just keep seeing it as your parent’s school, if you just see it through their eyes, that’s all it will ever be for you. But if you think of it as your school, you erase your parents from those images, and imagine yourself walking around the campus…if you see if through your eyes, you might look at it differently.
He was, of course, right. That conversation helped me “reset” my perspective. And on a campus visit, I tried to imagine myself there, instead of my parents, and suddenly, it felt like I belonged. (Go Gusties)
The ability to reset our perspective is an important skill…and it doesn’t come naturally. I’ve discovered in my life that most often, we need an outside force to come along and help us with that. Otherwise we’re too easily stuck in familiar patterns.
In our old testament lesson for today, Saul had been anointed by the prophet Samuel as the first King of Israel. But Saul was not obedient to God. And when God sends Samuel to confront Saul with his disobedience, and to ask him to change, Saul refuses. It was time for a new King.
So the Lord then sends Samuel to Bethlehem, to select a new King. God told him to go to the house of Jesse. God told him that one of Jesse’s sons would be the new King.
Samuel started with the oldest, Eliab. He was tall, rugged, handsome; surely this must be the one. But then the Lord spoke to Samuel and said something that I think we need to pay close attention to. He said: “Do not look on his appearance or on the height of his stature, because I have rejected him; for the Lord does not see as mortals see; they look on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart.”
So, he moved on, to the second son, Abinidad…and then the third, Shammah; no, it wasn’t him either. Then the fourth…the fifth…the sixth and the seventh. None of them were right.
He asked Jesse, “I thought you had 8 sons?” “Well yes, there is another. The youngest. But he is young…he is little…and he’s kind of scrawny. He is out tending the sheep. His name is David.” Samuel said “bring him to me.”
When David was presented to Samuel, God’s voice spoke out and said “Rise and anoint him; for this is the one.”
There is no way that David should have been chosen. It broke all of the rules.
- The blessings always went to the oldest
- The blessings always went to the strongest
- The blessings always went to the one the father favored
David was none of these things. He was the youngest. He was scrawny…and his father, Jesse was pulling for Eliab. But God had a different vision. God had different sight. God saw something in David. Something special.
Here’s the thing:
While we look at each other, we usually evaluate based on what we see…are they tall, are they short, strong, weak, male, female, skinny, unskinny, smart looking, not so smart looking, gay, straight, old, young, white, black, Asian, middle eastern…while these are criteria that we use to evaluate…to judge; and we just have to be honest, we do…God uses different criteria. God has different vision. Hear again what God told Samuel: “Do not look on their appearance or on their height or stature, for the Lord does not see as mortals see; they look on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart.” God looks at the world and God has different vision.
And I wonder, what would the world be like, if we could look not with our own sense of vision, but with God’s? What if we could look at the world through God’s eyes?
Have you ever had your perspective changed? Has something ever happened that changed the way you saw something? What does that do to you? What does that do to your heart? What does that do to how you perceive those around you?
66 year old William Reed, of Batavia, New York, is a bodybuilder. He’s got a tough, outer shell, and a kind of a crochety personality. Reed was also born completely colorblind. He has lived his entire 66 years, unable to see color at all. That’s normal for him. He really doesn’t know any different. When asked, he would just say “most everything is the color of mud.”
But technology is changing, and new tools are emerging. His family heard about a new invention, a pair of Enchroma glasses that can help the colorblind see. They’re expensive, nearly $500 a pair. But his family went in together to buy a pair for his birthday. Watch what happens:
New vision is a gift.
Seeing with new vision is a powerful, life-changing thing. We see things we haven’t seen before. We see colors…details…movement…and it brings us joy. Childlike joy.
Did you hear what William Reed said? He said “it’s so weird…the trees…they don’t even look real…seriously, they look 3D.” Even our very sense of reality changes when our perspective, our vision shifts.
So what would it be like, if we could see with God’s sense of vision? What if we had a Samuel kind of experience?
I can’t help but think a lot would change for us:
- We would look at creation and see it as something to be cared for and tended, not exploited
- We would see the poor and the homeless not as burdens, but as opportunities to show love
- We would see foreigners and refugees not as threats, but as opportunities to build bridges and understanding
- We would see the church not as a building, but as people of God, working in the world to fulfill Christ’s mission
- We would look at all people and see them as beloved children of God
When I pray, one of the things I pray for is to have God’s sense of vision. I want to see people…I want to see the world…as God sees it. And I’ve had moments…there have been times when God’s work has been so apparent, so palpable…
- When I’ve seen a meals of hope volunteer sit down and talk with one of the people who comes here for a meal
- When I’ve seen a senior high peer minister sitting on the floor next to a middle schooler at confirmation, getting to know them…building a relationship
- When I’ve seen someone pull their car up to the little free pantry, and drop off a grocery bag of food…or when I’ve seen someone pick up food there
- When I saw Ben Konold, who grew up here at Trinity, talking this past week with such passion at VBS in front of the whole group about his ministry in Uganda, the children there, and opportunities we have to do ministry
In these moments, I think I’ve seen with God’s eyes. And I felt a lot like William Reed did when he put on those glasses…almost overwhelmed at the beauty of the moment.
The reason we have these experiences, these glimpses, of course, is because of God’s vision for us. Because God sees each of you as uniquely beautiful and loved beyond measure.
This is how God sees you. And when God looks at you, it is with joy. And because this is how God sees you, with God’s help, we can look around and see the world, and each other the way God does.
Can you imagine what the world would be like if we could do that, all the time?
Let’s try. Let’s try to see the world as God sees it. And let’s see each other as God does. Child of God, loved beyond measure.
In our prayers this week, let’s pray for new vision…a new perspective to shift our hearts. Let’s see the world through God’s gracious eyes.
Thanks be to God!