Let Our Eyes See
Blessed are your eyes, for they see, and your ears, for they hear. Truly I tell you, many prophets and righteous people longed to see what you see, but did not see it, and to hear what you hear, but did not hear it. ~Matthew 13:16-17
I spent last week with 14 high school students and four leaders serving the people of San Francisco and Oakland. While we were there, we had the opportunity to help feed the homeless, serve in a hospital, and deliver food to those who were sick. Besides helping others, we had the opportunity to help ourselves too. When I say help ourselves, I am not talking about a buffet or a much-needed vacation; no, we got the opportunity to help ourselves understand, hear and see. We could have worked in soup kitchens and passed out food to nameless people and had a very successful trip, but that is not what we did. We spent a week eating with people, walking with people, and hearing the stories of the people we served.
On our first day in San Francisco, each of us was given $2.00 and four hours of time. We broke into groups of four and five, and were given the task of feeding ourselves and helping someone we met on the street. To feed four people with $8.00, when we typically spend that on a meal for ourselves, is difficult. But the most difficult thing about this exercise wasn’t feeding ourselves, but what to do with 4 hours of time. It raised questions of “what do homeless people do with all of their time?” “How do they find resources they need?” “How do they communicate with each other without cell phones?” This exercise helped set the tone for our understanding the people that we served in San Francisco and Oakland, as well as the people of Phoenix.
Often in our lives we get so focused on what we have to get done that we don’t see what is going on around us. As we walked the streets of San Francisco it wasn’t hard to see people on their cell phones texting or talking, walking past and sometimes over, the poor and less fortunate. If we had our cell phones while in San Francisco, we might have found ourselves in a similar situation. Fortunately we didn’t, because we were forced to turn our faces away from our screens. This allowed us to see people, meet people and have face-to-face interaction with people we might not ever have noticed; and not just in San Francisco, but also within our own group.
Often times we get so caught up in “liking” someone’s comments on Facebook or Instagram, texting our “friends” emoji’s or playing games that we neglect to see. But Jesus wants us to see.
From the beginning, humans were created to be in relationships. We are told that it was not good for Adam to be alone. Yet as our society evolves, we spend less and less time in relationships and more and more time acting like we do.
I got a lot out of this last week with our Sr. High teens in San Francisco, but if there was one thing that I truly understand after this trip is that we have eyes to see and ears to hear. Eyes to see injustice, see poverty, see hurt as well as hope, love and compassion. God gave us ears to hear the cries of the poor, the sick, and the hungry, as well as the sound of prayer and songs of praise. However, it becomes very difficult to see these things if we are always buried in our phones, and it is hard to hear if we always have something in our ears.
I would challenge you this week to set down the phone and turn off the music. Take time to look and listen so you might see and hear what or whom God is calling you towards. Maybe it is taking an extra bottle of water with you to give to someone on a street corner during these hot days. Maybe it is giving up your seat to someone else. Maybe it is getting together with a friend you haven’t scene in a while, actually face-to-face, and listening to what is going on in their lives. I challenge you to have the courage to set down the phone turn off the music so you can see and hear.