The Discipline Of Seeing

by | May 28, 2024 | Guest Writers

By Pastor David Kalamen

 

      We are living in extraordinary times. One of the characteristics of the age we live in is sensory overload. Sensory overload is the term used to describe a moment when the brain is incapable of processing the input from our senses. Studies have shown that over-stimulation can lead to a vast number of reactions: irritability, noise sensitivity, withdrawal from social interaction, high levels of anxiety, sleeplessness, and so on.

      I have observed that the greater the stimulation of our senses, the more of a tendency there is to withdraw and isolate. There is a drive to find a safe place where less and less is required as a response. The voices we hear, the needs we see, and the cries for help, for many are overwhelming. We drive our car into the garage, shutter the house, and survive with as little responsibility to engage as possible.

       Television and the Internet deluge our minds and hearts with the challenges of a culture that appears to be devolving into chaos right before our eyes. Political systems are becoming increasingly socialistic in nature, and dependence upon the state is growing exponentially. We find it easy to say: “Someone else is responsible to care.” We pay taxes for someone else to come up with a solution and intervene.

      We become more and more comfortable with closing our eyes to the needs that are all around us. We learn to drive on by, to choose our travel routes that detour around those parts of the city that are in great disrepair. We become less comfortable with prayer because prayer usually elicits a response from heaven with directions to become a solution in someone’s life.

      As a Christian, I am at times tossed between my desire to engage and help everybody and a sense of guilt for not doing so. I try to reconcile my beliefs with my personal and family priorities. It is not always easy making a choice as to what you do or do not do, and where you place your physical, emotional, and financial resources.

      At times like these, I am reminded of Christ’s example. The Bible says that when Jesus saw people He was moved with compassion. What He saw moved Him to engage. He did not close His eyes to the needs all around Him. He cared: He so loved the world that He gave of Himself. His empathy for what people were experiencing is renowned.

      However, I am also reminded of another portion of scripture where Jesus said: “I assure you and most solemnly say to you, the Son can do nothing of Himself…unless it is something He sees the Father doing; for whatever things the Father does, the Son…also does in the same way. For the Father dearly loves the Son and shows Him everything that He Himself is doing…” (Jn 5:19-20, AMP). 

      Jesus had an intimate relationship with His Father. The communication lines were open all the time as Jesus pressed into a lifestyle and seasons of prayer. Here Christ infers that everything He did was on the authority of His Father’s express will and that He only did what He saw the Father doing. Every miracle Jesus performed He saw before He did it. Every miracle had the backup of the Father’s will and authorization. Each life affected was impacted and influenced accordingly.

       Well, that was a Jesus thing, right? Well, not exactly. Jesus told His disciples: “I assure you and most solemnly say to you, anyone who believes in Me [as Savior] will also do the things that I do; and he will do even greater things than these [in extent and outreach], because I am going to the Father” (Jn 14:12, AMP). He had an expectation that they too would learn how to pray, “Our Father, Who art in heaven, hallowed be Thy name: Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven” (Matt 6:9-10).

      Jesus said that He had to go to the Father. He could only be in one geographical location at a time in physical presence. But, if He went to the Father, He would send the Holy Spirit, the same Spirit that worked in Christ to do the things He did: “When He, the Spirit of Truth, comes, He will guide you into all the truth….He will not speak on His own initiative, but He will speak whatever He hears [from the Father—the message regarding the Son], and He will disclose to you what is to come [in the future]” (Jn 16:13, AMP).

      That’s what it means to be a Christian: when we are born of His Spirit, Christ indwells us and desires to do through us what He did when He walked the earth. A Christian means, “Christ in us working through us.” We died with Christ, and now Christ lives in us: “I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless, I live; yet not I, but Christ lives in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me” (Gal 2:20).

      In the heart of every believer, there is a deep desire to do “the greater things.” Jesus says that we can. It will take a commitment to practice communicating with the Father. It will also require the discipline of waiting and watching to see what the Father is seeing. In Ephesians, Paul prayed for the Church: “…that the eyes of your heart [the very center and core of your being] may be enlightened [flooded with light by the Holy Spirit], so that you will know and cherish the hope [the divine guarantee, the confident expectation] to which He has called you…” (1:18, AMP).

      What happens when we start to see what the Father is seeing? My experience is that it is often accompanied by a spirit of compassion that moves us to pray, engage, and help. We are called upon to “practice empathy and compassion” (Eph 5:2, AMP). We are called to be clothed with compassion. Mother Teresa said, “There is more hunger in this world for compassion than there is for bread.”

      How good are you at putting yourself in someone else’s shoes? How deeply do you feel the troubles others face, and does it produce in you a strong desire to alleviate that suffering? How conscious are you of the pain and difficulties of others? When you say, “I will pray for you,” to others, do you? Develop the discipline of praying immediately. Let God make you an answer to your own prayer.

      Do you allow yourself to get “emotionally” moved? There is way too much hardness in the human soul in this generation. Emotions like hate, anger, unforgiveness, and such rule the hearts of way too many. If we cannot be touched with God’s emotions, we can touch no one.

       When we feel the heartbeat of God, see what He is seeing, and experience the rush of His compassion, there is only one requirement left: obedience. God will not inspire your heart and fill it with His compassion to be constantly shut down by an unwillingness to obey. He will find someone willing to obey and risk their reputation. The adventure of seeing “the greater things” begins and ends with obedience.

       Let Jesus be Lord over what you see. Let the Spirit of God train your eyes to see what the Father is seeing and wants to do through you in people’s lives. We have nothing to lose by acting on this compassion and so much to gain. I know we can’t do everything, but we can do His thing. Self-motivated works, however good, are not as effective as one work motivated by the heart of God.

 

6 Comments

  1. One of the many quotes from this devotion that made me pause was this question: “Do you allow yourself to get “emotionally” moved?”.

    My answer is yes, but.

    It takes me a nano-second to feel drawn in and want to help people in need, but after witnessing a steady increase of people who are un-housed in the Kelowna neighborhood where I lived, I had to turn off my compassion meter or be continually emotionally drained every time I ventured out of my cul-de-sac! That is a sad fact, but I am not sure what the answer is, because I couldn’t help someone every time I had to go to work or complete a minor task that required a visit within my neighborhood. I try to pray for each situation but still, what is the long term solution for a compassionate follower of Christ? In the end, moving to a small town has helped. Now my daily excursions are not saturated with the visual evidence of growing levels of poverty in my society. I can live in innocent blindness to the realities of poverty, mental illness and hunger on the streets and forget about that level of suffering until I go back to the city.

    Ooops, sorry if that sounds depressing!

    Reply
  2. Good word Pastor Dave. Very encouraging.

    Reply
  3. Good to see you back in the saddle again.
    Your exhortation to be compassionate to those in house and out house is a timely message. Like the disciples when the people in the Samaritan village
    rejected Jesus, they wanted to fry the lot of them. He said no. ( Luke 9; 54…)
    He came to save a wretch like me and you. That’s compassion for you. And if He can do it for us, He can do it for any whosoever. There is no such thing as limited atonement.
    Please keep writing Pastor. Words of eternal life have eternal consequences.

    Reply
  4. Excellent writings. What a good reminder of how Jesus came and He told us to have compassion on the sheep. Just the other day I was thinking on how Jesus was moved with compassion, not sympathy but compassion, Godly compassion for the hurting, the wounded, the sick, the lame, the blind, the deaf, and for the Lost. Then I began to think of how we are told to stir up our gifts that God has given us, which releases the compassion of God out to those who are in need. How the world needs the compassion of Christ and not human sympathy. Thank you Pastor Dave.

    Reply
  5. You are describing how I’ve been feeling for a long time. Thank you for explaining it in spiritual terms and for offering the solution.

    Reply
  6. Thank you for this word of encouragement. Take the next step and ask our Heavenly Father what He sees in our neighbourhood and what is expected of us to do His will. Blessings

    Reply

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