She was walking down the hall, just doing her job when he flagged her down and summoned her into our tiny room with its glass windows.
"Ma'am? Can I ask you a question?"
Time stood still. She waited for his question. I wondered where he was going with this. Never the one to ask questions, always the one to be stoic and strong, I was hushed by the pleading tone in his voice.
"You have sad eyes. Can you tell me why?"
I hadn't noticed her sad eyes before, but now they were filled with tears.
The young resident, who we soon learned had three boys of her own just about the ages of our girls, was heartbroken for us. Despite her determination to remain professional and optimistic, she knew the prognosis for our tiny girl was grim and apparently, her eyes gave her away before her lips found the courage to form the words.
My firstborn says I have a knack for tying something to sad to everything and I suppose the point I hope to make here is no different. It's been over a decade, but I have never forgotten that question. So out of character for my groom, he couldn't help but ask that kind doctor what was up with the sorrow in her eyes that day. They told a story no one had yet told us, but our hearts already knew. I'm the emotional one, the people person, the one to linger and converse, but he was the one who saw her eyes. In full on mother bear mode, I missed it.
But I will never forget it.
And, to be honest, it's been ringing in my ears for days.
Before our lips find the courage to form the words, our eyes tell on us, too.
Church, I'm looking at us.
We can say what we want. We can live any way we choose. We can wake up every single morning determined to follow every last rule and say we have the joy, joy, joy down in our hearts, but our eyes are going to tell the tale. If we are disgusted with the person in the mirror, defeated because we can never quite reach the bar set for us by the body of believers, there is no way in the world our eyes are going to reflect the grace we were sent to share with the world. Who are we listening to and what is that doing to our eyes?
We can tell the young mom we are praying for her and we care about her situation, but if we look right through her child when he enters the Sunday school room, she's going to know the truth. We can travel across the world to share the Gospel, but if we turn our nose up at the people across the street because they are different from us, we have missed the point. We can post a thousand Jesus-loving status updates on social media, but if we shift our glances and turn cold shoulders to the people in the grocery store, our actions are going to get the last say.
Somewhere along the line, we have lost our way.
If in our pursuit of perfection, we cause our brothers and sisters to feel less than, we have not only missed the mark, we have missed the Maker. "Life is busy," you say. "Nobody is perfect, Emily. Look at you, of all people!"
That's just it. I'm not pointing fingers and if I were, the first one would be pointed right at myself. No one on earth can get it right 100% of the time - but that's the whole point! The entire reason we are all desperately in need of a Savior is because we all fall short of the glory of God. (Romans 3:23)
We were never intended to live under law, but under grace. (Romans 6:14)
Apart from His grace, we would all be in over our heads. There is a day coming when all the money in the world is not going to be enough to buy our happiness or secure a prominent position for us. Every tongue, tribe, and nation - and I'm pretty sure that means every person from every sort of neighborhood - will bow. (Revelation 7:9)
All facades will be stripped away and only the truth will remain.
The last will be first and the first will be last.
The Message says it this way, "Here it is again, the Great Reversal: many of the first ending up last, and the last first." (Matthew 20:16)
Oh friends, no matter what version of the Word you prefer, the Great Reversal is indeed coming.
Are we living like we believe it's true?
Are we looking at our fellow man with eyes that believe that's true? Moreover, are they seeing Him in us?
What if we were? Oh, what if they could?? Life would not only look different, WE would look different. THEY would look different. The whole wide world would look different, for crying out loud. What if instead of making excuses right now and defending our actions we flipped that argument on its end and used that truth - the truth that not one of us is worthy of what Christ bought for us on the cross - as a reason to be transparent enough to live the stories our eyes are already telling?
What if instead of judging the family in front of you in the checkout line when their card is declined, you pulled yours out instead? What if, just once, instead of immediately telling yourself all the reasons not to help the guy on the corner, you just took the time to look him in the eyes and smile as you share whatever change is lying around in your car? What if it's not the money in your hand, but the love of Christ in your eyes He is really in need of today? What if you'd find a greater blessing in giving that you ever would in judging?
I am as guilty - if not more so - than anyone of letting my flesh dictate my actions, but my Savior tells me my yesterday has no power over my tomorrow. He paid it all for me. (Psalm 103:12) When He had every reason to turn a cold shoulder to me, when He was more than justified in the decision to let me drown in the middle of my mess, He extended His love and grace to me, and set my feet on solid ground. He loves me too much to let me be the jerk tomorrow that I was yesterday.
The Lord of All has called us as believers to follow Him and He's asked for nothing but our tiny faith in return. He knows full well what we are made of and what He's capable of making us into. Christ alone can do the heavy lifting. He asks us to trust Him when life doesn't make sense and to dare to be bold enough to love like He loved, to look like He looked, to go where He would go, believing He has made a way for us and He will never leave us. (Psalm 139) This Jesus was the one who dared to heal lepers, linger with prostitutes, and enter the homes of the sinners. He was neither afraid to call a spade a spade nor to call a fraud a fraud. (Luke 11:37-44)
He is our example. Have we missed that? Have we mistaken Him for someone else? Have we sold ourselves and the ones we were sent to serve, the ones He came to save short?
In our effort to play nice and please people, in our silent competitions of whose profile holds the prettiest pictures of the most perfect life, we've become distracted, y'all. This is real. This is life. This is war. Evil is outside the gate. Whether we want to acknowledge him or not, there is an enemy that hates us and has come to destroy all that is dear to us. Love is still the answer, but Love has a name and it is Jesus. Darkness is closing in, but there is still good news! We have the light - only light that will never dim. Christ in us is enough - for the whole wide world and for all of eternity.
Will we try to hide because we are scared of the dark? Will we be that selfish? Will we just stay where we are with our sad eyes, smiling, nodding, never rocking the boat, and pursuing worthless pursuits all our days?
Or will we be bold enough to see what happens when we let His light shine through our eyes and our lives?