below the line of sight

The last several days I've been reminding myself, "things are not as they appear to be." Maybe that will be my meditation for the lenten season this year.

I imagine that Jesus might have steadied himself with similar words during the days that led up to his death. First there was the public adulation as he entered Jerusalem, but there was not much in the crowd's support that Jesus could trust in. And then it ended with his arrest and trial, which painted a picture of Jesus that was far from the truth. His closest disciples fled, or even denied him. And the overwhelming impression we are left with is that Jesus had failed as a prophet and leader, and that the religious and political powers of his time had won. They remained in control and he was crushed and disgraced, his followers scattered.

But things were not as they appeared to be.

Paul once wrote to the Corinthians that "we walk by faith, not by sight." Those are some more words I've been holding on to recently. It may look like those in power are the ones in control, like the weak are crushed, the suffering ones forgotten. It may look like the opinion of the majority (in any group) means everything, and that to lose their favor means to lose your value and purpose and even your source of livelihood. But what really matters is what God is doing. And God usually works below our line of sight. Eventually it will become clear what God has been doing, and who he has been using as his servants, and everyone will see the results of that. But in the meantime it is important for us to walk by faith and not by sight.

I've been trying to become more aware and pay better attention to what God is doing (below the line of sight). Reminding myself that things are not as they appear to be and take another look at the situations that seem to be so depressing or frightening. So I can continue to have the energy to respond, not to the distracting appearances, but to what's really happening, what God is doing.

It also seems to help when I find myself in the position of the stranger, the unimportant one, the vulnerable, the helpless. As many of us do (some more often than others). These are the ones more likely to walk by faith rather than sight, the ones hoping desperately that things are not as they appear to be.