Jeanene Reese, director of Abilene Christian University’s Center for Women in Christian Service, is known by ACU’s faculty and students as the person who encourages and prepares young women for Christian ministry. But Jeanene remembers well the time her definition of encouragement was challenged, when she ran into an old school friend at a busy airport restaurant: “We sat around a table reminiscing about good times we had shared in college. This unexpected and long overdue interlude was passing too quickly as one flight after another was announced for departure. We hurriedly shared anecdotes about spouses, jobs, and children.
“As my friend unfolded his wallet with a family picture, I was saddened to see that his middle child was obviously handicapped. He told me about his family–each member’s name and age and something of special interest about each one.
“Fully expecting him to mention the child’s disability, I was surprised when instead he spoke of his daughter’s funny sense of humor and her special love for art. As he looked fondly at his family he said, “I know you can’t tell by the picture, but Heather is retarded, her development is delayed. She doesn’t look like most handicapped children though; she’s a really beautiful little girl.
“I wanted to say to him that I had known at first glance that she was different, that something wasn’t quite right. But then I looked at him as he looked at her and it was almost as if the photograph changed in front of my eyes.
“I was shocked to see this child from her father’s perspective–she didn’t look handicapped, she was beautiful! Everything that must make her unique and so very special was shining through in that brief moment. I saw a whole and healthy person who is truly loved. I saw her through her father’s eyes!”
It’s true: beauty is in the eye of the beholder, and as the adage goes, “The eyes are the window to the soul.” Even Jesus spoke of this in Matthew 6:22-23 (Living Bible translation): “If your eye is pure, there will be sunshine in your soul. But if your eye is clouded with evil thoughts and desires, you are in deep spiritual darkness. And oh, how deep that darkness can be!”
Spiritual vision is our capacity to see clearly what God wants to do in our lives. But this spiritual insight can be easily clouded by our thoughts and desires. Self-serving desires, interests, and goals block that vision and cause us to see everything in a negative light. It hinders us from looking past the handicaps in order to see the beauty.
I think author Ed Rehbein said it best: “A ‘clear’ eye is healthy, whole, pure and unspotted. A person with a clear eye has a wholesome outlook–he sets his focus on that which is good. Consequently, he fills himself with light. ‘Light’ is a figure of speech describing things that are good in life such as truth, righteousness and purity–even God and Jesus are called light (1 John 1:5 & John 1:4). So a clear eye opens the window of your soul to the sweet Light of Life.”
I want so much to see the world through God’s eyes. I want the same compassion and love found in His eyes to be revealed in mine as well. Instead of finding fault in others, I want to see their true beauty. Instead of focusing on weaknesses, I hope to make an effort to search for strong points.
And finally, when my days on this earth are over and friends and family gather around my coffin, I hope someone will remember my life as a positive light. I hope I will have shone enough love and compassion while on this earth that more than one person in the room will be compelled to say, “The one thing I remember most about Mike Collins is, he sure had his Father’s eyes.”
Mike Collins www.mikecollins.biz