Throughout the past two weeks, I’ve been watching and listening for what God would have me write about today, and I’ve had a few experiences that all point me toward the same thought. It’s kind of hard to explain, but it has to do with our willingness to see through God’s eyes—our willingness to let Him make His imprint on us so that we, in turn, can carry that same imprint to each other.
Since the last time I wrote, I’ve been privileged to receive word from an old friend—someone I cared for quite deeply and never expected to hear from again. It had been five years since the last time we’d spoken to each other, and no more than two short weeks ago, I was online checking some messages when I found one from him. He said he’d been cleaning out his closet when he’d come across a letter I’d written to him once. He went on to explain that after reading the letter again, he’d felt an urge to reach out and to let me know how much he’d appreciated me. His words brought peace to my heart, because though we sometimes pour ourselves into the relationships we’re given, we have a tendency to wonder whether or not any of it can make a lasting difference. I remember writing that letter. I remember wanting so much to convey the tenderness that had gripped my heart. I wrote effusively and romantically of unconditional love, and I hoped my words would please their reader. Of course, it’s difficult for us to bestow such love upon everyone we meet—or even upon one person throughout the course of an entire lifetime. We’re human. But in that moment—that fragile moment during which I penned those words to my friend—I knew they were the words of God flowing through me. Why else would he have kept them all this time, only to rediscover them again—perhaps at a moment in his own life when he most needed to hear them? Oh, my friend, wherever you are, may His love be with you always!
The second, and rather prolific, experience I had came last week as I was riding down the road with my father. I visit him often, though the setting in which he lives has been a source of discomfort for me in recent years. Wedged between Baltimore and Washington D.C., it’s a place very different from the quiet, rural areas I’ve called home for a significant portion of my life—a far cry from the setting I’ve come to love. You can’t really call it a town, but it’s not a metropolis, either. It’s just a crowded place off a highway exit ramp, as most places between Baltimore and D.C. are. Even the “back roads” are basically highways, and, for many reasons, it’s just not the kind of place where I would want to live at this point in my life. Be that as it may, I spend much of my time there—and I must admit that I normally make no secret of my personal dislike for the area. It’s necessary for me to disclose that because of what happened last week. My dad had asked me to accompany him to the grocery store, and as we were driving down the road, I was suddenly—and inexplicably—struck by the beauty of the sunset. I saw children playing basketball at the park near the end of the street, and couples walking their dogs. Without warning, I found myself incredibly pleased at the sight. I knew it wasn’t anything I hadn’t seen before, but it was as if I had new eyes. I found loveliness in a place that I had never regarded as lovely. It was so strange, but as I let it in—as I let Him in—I could feel this amazing serenity wash over me. I could live here, I thought. By the time we’d reached our destination, I was so full of this beautiful force that had penetrated my spirit that I felt compelled to just beam at every person who crossed my path. And they smiled right back at me. Beautiful smiles. I’m thankful for that moment, yet it also makes me sad. It makes me sad in the knowledge of all the ones I’ve missed—those precious moments when I could have seen through God’s eyes, but chose, instead, to use my own.
Life is made of moments such as these. And with every breath we take—everything we do, every word we say, every emotion that seeks to conquer us—we have a choice. We can choose to move on our own, or we can choose to be moved by the One who owns us. The former might feel more comfortable initially, but it won’t get us very far in the end. Only in submission to the Potter does the clay become that piece of exquisite beauty it is meant to become. Even in something as subtle as a passing conversation with a friend, or a tender smile bequeathed to a stranger, we can sense God in ourselves and God in each other—an impression that lasts.