My husband and I don’t watch much TV but the few shows we watch are, Jeopardy, Master Chef, and occasionally The Voice. What I like about The Voice, (a show where people try to win a singing competition) is that when people audition for the first time, none of the judges see the contestants. They are basing their perceptions of whether to choose that person solely on their vocal abilities. It has nothing to do with the way they look, what size they are, the way they act, the way they style their hair, how much makeup they wear, or what clothes they wear. It comes down to vocal talent. I like that concept and I know that even as open-minded as I think I am, I have found myself being surprised by people who try out at times. Once I was in the kitchen cooking, weeks after they had eliminated contestants and they were down to about six candidates and I heard one of them singing. Because I couldn’t see them, I didn’t recognize which one it was and I had my favorites. I was listening and trying to decide who was singing, but I couldn’t determine which one of ‘my favorites’ it was. I was enjoying this pure voice, but I couldn’t put a face to it. I had to walk into the living room and see who it was. I was shocked because I heard from this person, without seeing them, something I had never heard before, a quality I had never heard before. She was at the bottom of my top three and that night, she moved to my number one! (Incidentally, she went on to win the competition.) I thought right then. Wow! I had a preconceived notion about her. I was judging her based on her age and not her talent. I was letting my mind play tricks on me and not listening to what this gal has to offer! It wasn’t her looks, it wasn’t the way she dressed, it was her age! It made me wonder how many times have I done that with other people based on other things? Maybe it was something else about them that I let get in the way and I didn’t “listen” to what they had to offer. Maybe they had something amazing to share with me and some preconceived notion of mine blocked a tremendous blessing! I was saddened at myself and my reaction.
Later I reflected on Jesus and how he was rejected in his home town. He was also rejected because he was a Jew. We can think of all kinds of things to reject people for. Sometimes we don’t receive from people because they are talented or because they aren’t talented. We can make up all kinds of excuses not to listen. There are many people who will listen to a person because they have so many degrees, like a doctorate or a master’s but I’ve met people with many degrees who don’t have a lick of common sense. Then there are people who have very little education but have all the wisdom in the world. While we do need to be careful who we receive from, we need to be equally careful who we reject. We may be rejecting the greatest treasure on earth.
I’m sure you’ve heard of people who have tossed out what they thought was garbage only to be found by another who found something of great value? When I had my first job at the age of nineteen, I rented a small two bedroom house off the college campus where I worked in Tulsa. The woman who owned the house, had left it, thirty years before, belongings and all, when her husband died because she couldn’t bear to stay with all the memories. It was quite a mess to clean up, but the structure was sound and the furnishings were very nice. It was like stepping into a time capsule of someone’s life. Imagine all the dust and grime that collected over those years! The vacuum’s electric cord had disintegrated into the carpet. When I went to move it, the cord just crumbled! She said to do whatever we wanted with everything in the house. There was a rather dull wall-hanging, in a plain off-white etched wooden frame, that I tossed into the open trash can. My mother came by as I was cleaning and saw it and asked if she could have it. Naturally, I said yes, wondering why she would want it. A couple of weeks later, I was in my mother’s house and there was a beautiful art piece hanging on her wall. I asked where she found that amazing ocean scene. She said, “Don’t you recognize it? It was in your trash can!” She had cleaned it and antiqued the frame to bring out the gold tones of the sun glistening on the water. It was a seascape of ocean waves crashing on the shore, spraying radiant droplets of water up, with reflections of a golden sunrise, but the dirt I saw had obscured the scene and the bland frame had muted the colors. Her skillful refurbishing had brought out what the original artist had seen and depicted. She asked if I wanted it back and I told her “No Mom, you deserve to have it, because you saw what I could not see, you brought it to life.” Over the years, every time I saw that painting, I admired it and reminded myself to look beneath the dirt and grime and see the potential, because I might be missing something of great beauty.
But isn’t that how life is? There is potential everywhere we look. There is potential in everyone, there is great beauty in everyone. God sees it, but sometimes we fail to see it. God sings over each of us, but we don’t all have the ears to hear his song. And God can use each one of us and speak through each of us. If he can speak through donkeys, he can speak through people. We just have to quit shutting our ears to the people around us and rejecting the packages. You never know when you might be missing a beautiful song or tossing out a beautiful art piece. Will you start receiving the packages God sends to you, no matter how they’re wrapped?
See these verses:
Luke 4:14-30 (Jesus rejection in Nazareth)
Numbers 22:28 (donkey speaking)
Zephaniah 3:17 (Lord sings over us!)
Prayer: Father I pray that today you will help us each to receive the messages you send to us, no matter how they are wrapped. Help us to look beyond the package to the message. Help us all to realize that you are the message and it is you we are seeking. Help us to look for content and not be judgemental. Help us to see with your vision to the heart. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.