By Andrea Johnson
There is nothing much worse than the feeling that one is alone, that no one cares.
Open Bible President Randall A. Bach recently shared a story that illustrates this point:
Having been on the road for several days, Barbara and I decided to drive through a KFC for lunch. They messed up our order, so we drove back to ask them to correct it. They ended up crediting the charge to our account and giving us the right order in addition to the food we already had that they could not take back. We were left with way more chicken than we could eat.
Barbara remembered seeing a young man who looked homeless standing by a church we had passed, so we drove by again, and he was still there. Scruffy in appearance, his backpack at his feet, he looked to be a fellow who drifted from place to place. I pulled up and exited our vehicle, holding the KFC box with its distinctive markings. Recognizing the logo, the man’s face lit up. Before I got near him, I heard him say in a hopeful voice, “Oh boy!”
Handing the box to him, I said, “KFC messed up our order and gave us more food than we can eat. Would you like to have it?”
He happily reached out to receive the box and said in a gentle, polite tone, “Thank you, sir, for seeing me.”
Those words will remain with me: “Thank you for seeing me.” Perhaps even more important to him than the food was the fact that we saw him.
How easily we can dismiss those around us and not see them. If we don’t “see” them, then we don’t feel the need to act, right? If I don’t look into the bloodshot eyes of the panhandler outside on the street, it’s easier to simply pass him by. I don’t think about the fact that he is someone’s much-loved son. Or not. He may have no one on the face of the earth who cares a fig about him. If I don’t “see” the hardened teenager sulking in the corner at church, I don’t feel the need to approach her and strike up a conversation. And to be honest, “seeing” someone doesn’t necessarily mean that we throw money at them and consider our jobs done. Maybe it means we invest time and resources in inner-city works that can minister to the person spiritually, mentally, and physically.
When I read Gus Duarte’s story, I heard him convey the same sentiment expressed by the young drifter the Bachs met. Someone “saw” Gus and rescued him. Now he does that for other people because when he sees them, he sees himself.
I wonder sometimes if we have forgotten what it’s like to not be seen, to be that person no one cares about. It can be the child in children’s church who acts out for attention. It could be our elderly neighbor who just lost his wife. It could be that grumpy cashier, not knowing who she’s going to find to watch her kids so she can work her next shift.
No, we can’t meet every need that comes along. But we can ask God to open our eyes to see the ones He has for us to see.