Cast in the frame was a picture of a little girl sitting on the edge of a sidewalk holding her favorite doll. Her black hair ruffled against the light red coat she wore. A small scarf dangled from the end of her sleeve as she sat with narrowed eyes and an indiscriminate smile. I would have passed by the photo without a thought until I saw the next frame. The photographer opened his lens to reveal the wider picture. No longer did I see a single girl aimlessly sitting on the edge of some random sidewalk. My mind no longer made the typical assumptions of family and home. The picture’s broadening view showed a rubbled, war-torn city. A bloodied soldier was walking by with a bandage wrapped around his neck. The lifeless remains of the aftermath could be seen just beyond her right shoulder, under which the half-fallen building could not hide. Her smile no longer looked like it had in the first frame. I wondered if it was a smile at all. The lens pointed toward bewilderment and abandonment.
Safety was no longer part of the picture and a winter war was more certain than her casual approach to a chilly spring.
Had I only seen the first photo there would have been no stirring in my heart. Had the photographer simply narrowed his focus and left it as such, no one would have known the real story behind this isolated child, but he gave us more and it invoked the heart and not just the head.
One of my favorite verses in the Bible speaks of the nature of Jesus Christ. Mark 6:34 And Jesus, when he came out, saw much people, and was moved with compassion toward them, because they were as sheep not having a shepherd: and he began to teach them many things.
The fallacy of mankind is our judgement based upon our narrow view. We often see so little of the picture that it makes us bypass the real story, but lives aren’t always captured in a small frame. The casting of an entire life with all it’s entanglements, fears, losses, and pains cannot be seen in the smaller scene. We tend to look minimally when seeing other people which keeps the mind appeased, but the heart cold.
It was the Lord’s sight and the actuality of their lives which moved Him. He responded because He saw them through a wider lens. Jesus ministered, not based upon a passing glance or a whimsical view, but through the knowledge of their reality – they were sheep without a shepherd. In consideration of His people who often failed Him, the psalmist wrote: Psalm 78:38-39 But he, being full of compassion, forgave their iniquity, and destroyed them not: yea, many a time turned he his anger away, and did not stir up all his wrath. For he remembered that they were but flesh; a wind that passeth away, and cometh not again. God saw us in the wider frame of our true self and it provoked His mercy.
I am convinced that God loves us because of His complete view. What I’m concerned about is the way we see one another. Our struggle is not spiritual. It’s a physical, natural, and common issue. We must look broader, wider; more intently to see the wider view of the lives of people. People need our compassion which only comes with what Paul Harvey once called, The Rest of the Story. The lost need to be found; the saints need to feel wanted; the prodigal needs to feel welcomed back home. It all comes with our view. It is the look of compassion that comes from our look of love.
Pastor Jeffrey Harpole