As I drive to meet my sister for lunch, I sing a verse from the song I sung with others, earlier in the morning.
“I will keep my eyes open, open for the Lord.
I will keep my eyes open, open for the Lord.
Though sometimes hidden, I can trust he’s near.
I will keep my eyes open, open for the Lord.”
As I near downtown, I offer up my desire to keep my eyes open to for the Lord.
I want to have my eyes open to the ways He might be seeking to work in the midst of those I come across as I walk along and those I have conversations with, like my sister.
I want to live aware and responsive to Him.
I make my way to my sister’s building and wait for while she makes her way to street level.
We decide to have lunch at a place a few blocks away.
We are walking down the street, when a man by the edge of a building calls out, “I thought the last woman to walk by was fine, but you are more fine.”
I am in shorts, a plain t-shirt, with crocs. Comfortable. Not cute.
My sister is in a cute blue dress with a blazer top and stilettos. This man is talking to her.
I cringe, uncomfortable, knowing that he’s speaking to her in such a way.
I look at this man. He stands in tattered clothes with bags next to him, filled with all that he has in the world.
I want to tell him that this is no way to speak to a woman.
Instead, we pass as quickly as possible. I hope we will not pass him again on our way back. I think, perhaps we should walk an entirely different way back to her office to avoid the possibility.
Yet, when we unexpectedly take our lunch to go, we end up walking back the same way we came. My sister tells me there are some good places to sit outside, but we have to go back up the street.
I follow reluctantly.
We start to pass the man again. He asks us a question, a little hint at humor is in his voice.
“Did you bring back some of that food for me?”
His voice is softer—gentle, even.
I am at a loss for words.
My sister says, kindly, “I’m sorry, no.”
The man responds in the same way, a bit sad, “I know. It’s okay.”
But, it is not okay.
We walk on and my heart breaks, because he spoke like he expected this response.
His voice was sorrowful.
I know it deep inside, this man would have been full of joy and gratitude had I said to him, “Yes, this food is for you. All for you.”
Gone was the off-putting pretense of this man. I had glimpsed a bit of his heart.
He was worn and hungry and wanting some kind of connection.
And I missed it.
I couldn’t see through my fear and judgment to compassion, until now.
At the end of our sister lunch, I am eager to run into Bruegger’s on the corner, to take him something to eat. I look back up the street, to see if he is still there. He isn’t.
As I walk back to the car, I lift up thanks to God for opening my eyes to see.
He helped me to see past this man’s rough exterior to catch a glimpse of his heart.
He reminded me that this is what is important.
He helped me to see the real needs of this man. Hunger. Rest. Connection.
And He got me thinking about what it might look like to respond differently next time.
I thank Him for this man with the hungry heart.
The Lord said to Samuel, “Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The LORD does not look at the things human beings look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.” 1 Samuel 16:7 TNIV
Grace and peace be ours in abundance as we keep our eyes open for the Lord. May He teach us to see as He does. May He present us with opportunities to share His grace, peace and love with others. May He teach us through experience in ways that will shape and transform us. May we live changed.