Do you remember on the old cowboy shows when the hero got shot it was almost always only a flesh wound? Normally, they could wrap up the hurt spot for a episode and by the next episode it was totally well. Most of the time in life we only see other people skin deep. I think everyone wishes that others would look at them deeper, at the heart level to know what they are really like or what they are really feeling. But it is a much greater challenge to look deeply into the heart and soul of another person than one might imagine.
Think of Jesus and what he was able to see in the lives of people, often that they couldn’t even see in themselves. I think of the day when Jesus was using Simon Peter’s fishing boat as a pulpit to teach the people. When Jesus finished teaching he told Simon to take the boat out into the deeper water and cast the nets where he told him and he would have a great catch. Peter had a hard time believing that Jesus knew more about fishing or catching that he did since that was his profession and they had already fished all night without catching anything. As far as we know Jesus may never have even been out in a fishing boat before that day. We never read of him going on a fishing trip. But Peter is ready to obey Jesus. Even though he couldn’t imagine it being worth the effort, he said, “Nevertheless at your command, I will let down the nets.” When he dropped the nets they were so filled with fish he couldn’t get it in without breaking his nets. His fishing partners, James and John had to bring their boats to get the haul in. While they had their boats filled with fish, Peter fell before the Lord and asked him to depart from him for he was a sinful man. Jesus saw far deeper in Peter than Peter could see in himself. He told him from this time on he wouldn’t be fishing for fish, but for men. He even changed his name to Peter or Rock or Rocky to illustrate the kind of man Jesus saw in Simon. Jesus saw what he could become, rather than just what he was at that moment.
Wouldn’t it be great if we had the ability to look into the lives of others and see what they are capable of becoming instead of just what they are right now? Most of us that have lived for some time on this earth can remember some turning points in our lives when someone expressed faith in what we could do or become that went far deeper and reached out much further than we had ever imagined. But that person, speaking faith and truth into our lives, so often changed our whole thinking process and led us to believe that we really could do things that we had never imagined before. Just imagine the difference we could make in the lives of our children and grandchildren if we looked beneath the skin and saw in them abilities that God had put there but that needed cultivation and needed us to challenge them to see what they are capable of becoming.
Tell a child that they are worthless and that they will never amount to anything worthwhile in life and most of them will believe us and live out the vision we have placed in their heads. I never will forget talking to a man whose son was difficult and into something most of the time. He loved to kid others and was full of mischief. But I heard his dad say to him one day in frustration, “Son, I swear you will be in prison before you are 21. You just don’t think before you act.” I hurt for the boy and remember trying to pull him aside to tell him his dad was mistaken and just angry and that he had tremendous ability to become whatever he wanted to be. Sadly, his dad’s perditions came true. He spent most of his life in and out of jail or prison for one thing or another. Yet, below the skin he really was a boy that wanted to do right and be someone that mattered for good. Somehow, he could never see in himself anything below the skin.
Think of all the people Jesus met in whom he saw more than they could ever have imagined. He saw in Matthew, the tax collector an apostle and one who would write an account of his life on earth. He saw in the Samaritan woman a missionary that could bring her village to know him. He saw in Mary Magdalene the one out of whom he cast seven demons a godly lady who would be a faithful disciple for the rest of her life and a witness for him to all. He saw in Nathaniel a man whose heart was pure.
Truthfully the list goes on and on. But there are two questions that I want all who read this to ask of themselves. First, what does Jesus see below the skin in you? He knows what you are capable of with his help. The problem so often is that we just can’t see deep enough into our own hearts to believe we can make a huge difference for good in our world. The second question is, will you work on looking at others below the skin level? Something special is there in every life. But they need someone to see it to help them to see it. Be that person that helps every child imagine something wonderful they can do in the kingdom of the Lord.