How our eyes love to search for things of beauty and how gracious is our God to give us plenty of things to fix our eyes upon that are simply stunning. We went on a family walk yesterday and saw a cardinal perched on a bare branch. It was our nature surprise, for sure. The color was magnificent.
But often, our eyes miss beauty moments, because we, as humans, are so fixed on outside appearance. God, on the other hand, looks beyond our exterior and sees only the heart.
Last year around this time, I was doing this free advent study from Courtney Joseph’s website, Women Living Well. It was a perfect way for me to do my own advent in the quiet of the morning, being challenged each day by something I am often too side-tracked to make time for.
Week 2: Tuesday’s reading (pp. 22) was from Mark 12 (verses 28-30) which reads,
“And one of the scribes came up and heard them disputing with one another, and seeing that he answered them well, asked him, “Which commandment is the most important of all?” Jesus answered, “The most important is, ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’” (ESV)
I have used the SOAP journaling method on and off for the last several years and when I take the time to do it, amazing things happen. Courtney Josephs also uses this method for quiet times.
For those unfamiliar with it, SOAP is an acronym.
S: Scripture verse
O: Observation (What is the context of this verse?)
A: Application (How does this verse apply to me?)
In my SOAP journal for this day, I not only recorded the verses 28-30, but the next verse as well which reads:
“The second is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.” (ESV).
I didn’t realize this until I was looking over this entry to write this post. God clearly had a message to get across to me. Below is the remainder of my SOAPing journal entry for this particular day:
“God wants to be first in our hearts and minds. His name is El Kana. Loving others is next to that. It is a BIG deal to Him.”
“Loving others can be done in so many ways. Slowing down to do it is where I struggle.”
“Lord, open my eyes today so that I can love others the way you do. Show me someone today who needs your kindness and love and equip me to give it.”
Simple journal dialogue, right? Nothing fancy, but heartfelt. The prayer I wrote was one I truly meant. I was open to seeing.
Moments after, our day started with a full schedule before us: Morning chores, breakfast, math review, homeschool co-op, and errands. “God, give me eyes to see,” I reminded myself as we headed out the door.
The day came and went and not much more thought went into the sweet moments I had had with the Lord that morning. As the day came to a close and our afternoon errands wrapped up, it occurred to me that I had made no plans for dinner. One final errand– a grocery run. Awesome.
The minute we entered the grocery store, a man caught my attention which was odd because I was in “Mom Go-Mode.” It was nearing dinner time, we had been gone nearly all day, and I was trying to pull it together to meal plan on the spot, yet for some reason, my eyes were fixed on this stranger for what seemed an hour (though it was only a brief second). Strange, I thought. We began the race through the store to quickly grab what we needed for dinner. As we neared the check-out, my daughters needed to use the restroom so I pulled the cart over and waited for them to return; I ran through the recipe one final time in my head to make sure I had everything we needed. Then, I heard the Lord quietly remind me of our conversation that morning:
“Are your eyes open?”
“Oh yes, Lord. I remember. I asked you to open my eyes today.”
The girls were now returning to my side. We headed for the nearest check-out lane and when I looked up, found that we were directly behind the man who had caught my eye as we entered the store. Then I heard the Lord again:
“That is who I have for you to see today. Buy his groceries.”
These direct moments from the Lord have happened a handful of times in my life, however, when they do, I stop in my tracks and then move like a crazy-lady. I began to push past my daughters who where beginning to put our groceries on the belt and squeeze past the cart so that I could get the attention of the cashier. Although I was trying to keep it together, I knew I had very little time to act. She was nearing the end of scanning his groceries.
“I want to pay for his groceries, I mouthed,” hoping to remain anonymous. When he went to pay for his items, the cashier told him it was already paid for. He was flabbergasted.
“Who paid for my groceries?” he questioned.
“This woman,” the cashier said, pointing at me.
So much for being anonymous. He turned to me with the biggest smile I have seen in a long time and asked these simple words,
“Why did you do that?”
I hadn’t planned for this. I wasn’t sure what to say. The only words I could utter were, “Do you how much Jesus loves you?”
Tears welled in his eyes and he hugged me, graciously thanking me for showing him kindness.
As he packed up his few groceries and walked away, the cashier had tears streaming down her face. She told me that she had known him since she began working at the grocery store years earlier and if there was a person who needed that gift, it was him. Then, she added:
“Jesus tells us that we are to love our neighbors. That is exactly what just happened.”
Please hear my heart: I don’t share this story with you to bring attention to myself. I tell it to remind you that God is faithful to give us what we ask for (Psalm 37:4) when it aligns with His will. Praise Jesus for giving us eyes to see what He needs us to see on His behalf. When we see with His eyes, we show His compassion and His grace. Interestingly, although this happened a year ago, I think of him often and pray for him every time I remember him. When I visit that grocery store, I am always on the look-out for him, hoping I can do that for him again. I, perhaps, was more blessed by this God-moment than he was. God showed up and asked me to be His eyes, His hands, and His feet. I simply had to say yes.
I need to remember to ask God for His eyes more often. How many moments I miss because I am using eyes that look for what has a beautiful and lovely outside instead of using God’s eyes to see the heart.
Lord, may we all see with your eyes more and more and act to showcase your love, grace, and heart. I encourage you, lovely sister, to pray this prayer. I know this post has helped to remind me of the power of those words. Ask Him! He will be faithful to show you someone and you will be changed because of it! What a gift.