Cover of Seeing the Unseen
Seeing the Unseen
Dogs have an amazing sense of smell that we humans simply do not share. This sense allows them to “see” things that their human friends cannot. Anyone who owns a dog can attest to how much they rely on this sense to examine the world.
Our dog Micah had a wonderful relationship with our cat Xena. From the time he came home to live with us they were fast friends. When she died, Micah seemed confused by her absence. We tried to explain as best we could, but to no avail. One day soon after her death, he discovered the cat carrier which we used to transport Xena and our other cat Gus to the vet. Micah began furiously to scratch and paw at the carrier. He sniffed, and sniffed, peering into the carrier. Finally, he gave up and walked away. Though his eyes were telling him one thing, his nose was telling him another. Though he could not see her, he could still smell her. Which to believe? His eyes or his nose?
Humans do not have the super sensitive smelling ability of dogs, but we have something similar and infinitely better and more useful. God has given each of us the ability to “see” with our spirits. When we make space inside ourselves for His presence, He comes and dwells within each of us. In so doing, we receive the gift of spiritual discernment. Though we still see the world with our eyes, what we sense through our spirits may be two entirely different things. But unlike our canine friends, what we see with our spirit is much more real and valuable. When there is conflict between what we see and what the spirit of discernment informs us, the conflict is easily resolved. Our eyes may deceive us. But The Spirit within us is impeccable in wisdom and knowledge. It is this sense which we must learn to rely on in order to navigate our world.
Not everything in nature is lovely. I recently noted a very old gnarled tree. There was little symmetry and no beauty to it at all. There were several dead branches marring it’s appearance and mistletoe, a parasite, leeching the life away from the tree growing near the top. This tree was in a word- ugly.
Yet in an odd way, it was exactly the tree’s imperfections which caught my attention and made me stop and notice it in the first place. It was the tree’s unusual appearance which made it arresting to look at. Certainly things of perfection, such as a perfectly manicured lawn, are beautiful as well. But oh how much more lovely is sweeping field filled with clover and wildflowers! The towering ancient gnarled tree! The cactus in bloom in the violent desolation of the desert! The perfect lawn pales in comparison to these!
People, in general, seem to prefer the perfection of the manicured lawn to the wild, unpredictable asymmetry of nature. We insist on conformity to our image of manicured people in our circle of friends, neighbors, or church family. We perhaps do not adequately appreciate the amazing variety and unexpected eccentricities that God has built into his human Kingdom. Just as He built the unexpected into nature, He has also done in his crowing glory- the children He calls His own! We are all creatures of wondrous variety.
The temptation we must resist is that of attempting to turn each field of clover we encounter into a well manicured lawn. When we approach our neighbor with the intention of cutting clear all that we do not understand or appreciate, and then implant our own weedkiller and fertilizer, we risk altering their own unique essential being. We may tell ourselves that this is for the greater good, but it is still interfering with God’s perfect creation. Think of it this way. How incredibly boring would a world full of nothing but perfectly manicured lawns as far as the eye can see be? How incredibly boring would our lives be if they were peopled by nothing but perfectly manicured and conformed people? Let us instead look at each other with the eyes of God who created and sustains both nature and human beings in all their perfect imperfection. Amen!