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Beyond the Obvious
Photo: Studiomill
Recently, while on a walk near our home I noticed a tree as if for the first time. I’ve looked at this tree hundreds of time as I motored or walked by it on the country road that winds through an area of dogwoods, Southern pine, oak and poplars. I’m not sure what made me look more closely this time at this particular tree but when I happened to look up beyond eye level and really see the tree, to my surprise I found it completely dead.

There it stood, tall, looking like it fit right in with all the other trees. The lower twenty feet or so looked fine. But as I gazed upward I spied bark beginning to strip, exposing bare patches of tree trunk. No remnants remained of green pine needles and its stark outline silhouetted against the blue of the sky. “We’ll need to keep our eye on that tree now,” I brooded, “and make sure it doesn’t start dropping limbs onto the road or topple over in a storm.”

Walking on, I contemplated the sad fact that we often look at people the way I looked at the tree. We see the obvious. We never look beyond the hurried glance or the superficial smile. We keep moving, eyes straight ahead, lost in thought about our own lives and too preoccupied to wonder about what’s going on with the people we see every day. Do we ever take the time to pick up on the little cues that might give an indication of hurt and pain? If we cared enough to really see people, to look past the obvious and try to read their non-verbal cues—the slumped shoulders, the strained smile, the nervous aversion of the eyes—we might be surprised to find that not all is as it seems.

Could Get Messy

Of course, going beyond the obvious takes time and could get messy. Who needs it? Honestly, most of us don’t possess the time or inclination to take on other people’s problems. We agonize with our own hurts and pains; why take on more?

But then we remember Jesus—the One who looked into people’s souls and saw past the obvious. He wasn’t afraid of the messes He knew existed in their lives. Even when people tried to hide their pain He coaxed it out of them and offered His healing touch.

Jesus invites us to look beyond the obvious. We are called to be tender-hearted and compassionate, caring for our fellow travelers who bear heavy burdens through this life. As followers of Jesus, our mandate is to love as He loved. John 13:34 says, “So now I am giving you a new commandment: Love each other. Just as I have loved you, you should love each other.”

God grant us the ability to see beyond the obvious and willingly reach out in love to those who are hurting.

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By Nancy Gerard. Copyright © 2014 by GraceNotes. All rights reserved. Use of this material is subject to usage guidelines. Scripture taken from the NEW LIVING TRANSLATION © 1996.

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