Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Outward Appearances

"The LORD does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.”

1 Samuel 16:6-8
I realize this verse is talking about our own hearts and what they are like, but I am reminded of others too when I think of this verse.  I realize so often that people look just fine on the outside, but we rarely know what hurts or celebrations they're having because we don't often take the time to really find out.  It reminds me of a funny (well, now it's funny...at the time a little shocking and embarrassing!) story that happened a couple of years ago.  (Taylor reminded me of this story when we were at John's last week.  She loves to recall it and the absolute shock she produced for all parties involved!)
We were at John Kennedy's getting a pair of Taylor's eyes made...back in the days that we could get a new set in one full day.  Taylor and I would have to pass the hours of time it would take for John to complete the eyes, so we had fun shopping, eating, having coffee...you know all the girlie things Moms and Daughters love to do together.  There was just one problem.  Taylor didn't have her prosthetic eyes in, so we would keep sunglasses on her at all times. From the outside, no one would really know what was going on behind the glasses. It honestly was a great coverup.
I was in the midst of ordering our Starbuck's concoctions with the very sweet, young, jovial gal when I hear Taylor say, "Can I show you something?"  The woman's reply was cut short, and her smile turned to full-blown open mouth silence.  I didn't even have to look down to see what was going on. I knew Taylor had taken off her sunglasses to show this lady what her open eye sockets looked like.  I can't say I've been around too many people (OK, ANYone) who's had the same experience.   I felt so awkward, embarrassed, shocked, and then nearly hysterical in laughter within a matter of seconds.  It totally hit me that only Taylor could pull something like this off without missing a beat.  She was truly proud of herself. 
I wish I could say I recovered quickly or that the young woman recovered at all.  I often wonder how she retold that story to people over time.  I would have loved to be a fly on the wall in her house that night! 
What I thought though was that we never know what's behind the outward appearance...and oh, how often I judge by the outside looks, smiles, clothes, everything!  I also got to thinking about my coverups.  What do I try to hide behind?  It's not too often we get Taylors in our lives who will just let it out without being asked and not caring what the response in return will be. I have no idea what is REALLY going on with someone unless I ask and take the time to listen.   I want to be an asker, a listener, and be ready to hear and see the raw truth...the good and the bad.

Refiner's Fire

"For you, God, tested us; you refined us like silver."
Psalm 66:9-11
Every couple of years Taylor needs new prosthetic eyes.  It used to be a heinous process of crying til she'd pass out, as I've said in the past.  Now it's just a day out of our schedule and we walk out with a shiny new pair of blue eyes.  Well, it's been that easy until this set of eyes. So far (and we're still going) we've made 5 visits to John to get this set just right.  They aren't quite there yet.  It's quite a job to get the pupils straight forward, the color matched perfectly, and the shapes to stay in place.  We've finally got one eye just right, but the other keeps moving upward so Taylor gets really frustrated knowing they don't feel right.   (At the moment, Taylor has one new eye in and one old one. It's pretty funny looking at her with mismatched eyes when John works so hard to get them to be exactly the same.) 
This process of getting things perfectly lined up reminds me of how we are always in a refining process with the Lord.  To the outside world, we may look just right, but we really know what's beyond the outward appearance and in our own hearts.  Often times, I realize that is where and why I need the Lord every day.  I may seem like everything is just fine, but there are struggles that rage within all the time. I am so thankful I can be honest with myself and ask God for strength to change those things so that I can be the REAL person He wants me to be and that I want to be. 
There is a song called "Refiner's Fire."  It says, "My heart's one desire is to be holy...set apart for you Lord.  I want to be set apart and refined until that final day when I reflect the image of our Lord Jesus Christ.