Dec 1, 2011

Seeing Value in EVERYONE

Around our house we have many pieces of art; paintings, photos, quilts, sculptures, wood carvings, photographs, jewelry, and so forth. Although most of the pieces wouldn’t fetch any large sum of money at an auction, they are all very precious to me because they were gifts given by the person who made them.

My father-in-law Gene was a good wood carver and came from a long line of many generations of wood workers; in fact it is one of the things that I really liked about him when we first met because he reminded me of my maternal grandfather who was also a great wood carver. I loved both men very deeply; both men are no longer alive and their absence from my life has left a great void.

Both men could see life in a piece of wood and bring it out as they skillfully carved away all of the unnecessary wood to release the sculpture that was inside. Both men worked with many different mediums and both loved creating objects using wildlife; ducks, birds, etc as their subject matter. Although just hobbies for both men, they could have “quit their day jobs” and worked their careers as carvers.

One of my favorite pieces that I have that was made by Gene is a little duck that is carved from a piece of wood that was rejected and is full of burls and holes. On first appearance, one can see the shape of the duck but may miss the beauty of the carving because of all that is wrong with it. I got the piece after it was passed over by other family members picking out a better piece from Gene’s collection.

I love the duck because it reminds me of how Gene was able to see the value in everyone; no matter of what they looked like on the outside or even how they acted.

Much like his carvings, he could remove all of the parts that didn’t really define who a person was to see what was really inside of them; someone who was made in the image and likeness of God. And, when people spent time with him for awhile, he helped them to see the value as well.

Oh, if we could only begin to see and treat people as my father-in-law Gene treated them; what a difference we all would make in this lost and broken world.

Recently, I read multiple stories about the high suicide rate in South Korea; a problem that doesn’t seem to be going away. The articles all talked about how more than 40 people kill themselves each day in South Korea, which is more than twice the number who did so a decade earlier and five times as many as in 1989. People killing themselves regardless of their how well known they were or were not, and how much money they did or didn’t have and who couldn’t see value in their lives. And my heart was broken.

I realize that we don’t have the ability to stop everyone around the world from taking their lives, but what if we chose to make a difference where we live? What if we chose to start seeing value in everyone; beyond the external manifestation of their brokenness? 

“Impossible”, you say? Not with the love of Christ it isn’t. Oversimplified, I think we justify blowing people off and excuse our indifference and forget that God wants to work through us. We can’t do it on our own.

In fact, if you would have asked Gene when he was alive why and how he was able to see the value in each and every person, I know that he would tell you that it was because the love of Christ compelled him to do so. He did what he did because he knew that God saw value in him.

God already set for us an example when He chose to see value in us. The Bible says;  “For when we were still without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly. For scarcely for a righteous man will one die; yet perhaps for a good man someone would even dare to die. But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:6-8 NKJV)

Oh, if we could only begin to see and treat people as my Father-in-Heaven treats them; what a difference we all would make in this lost and broken world.

"Now God has us where He wants us, with all the time in this world and the next to shower grace and kindness upon us in Christ Jesus. Saving is all His idea, and all His work. All we do is trust Him enough to let Him do it. It's God's gift from start to finish! We don't play the major role. If we did, we'd probably go around bragging that we'd done the whole thing! No, we neither make nor save ourselves. God does both the making and saving. He creates each of us by Christ Jesus to join Him in the work He does, the good work He has gotten ready for us to do, work we had better be doing.” (Ephesians 2:7-10 The Message)

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