The other day I was up in the mountains by Big Basin and I saw a deer. It had been a couple of years since I had seen one, and this one was so tame with about a dozen steps I could have touched it. Now in no way was this the first time I had seen a deer; in fact, in New Jersey one of my Dog’s favorite pass times was pulling me on the leash while she chased them, a daily occurrence. In fact, there are times when I saw deer as much more of a nuisance than an object of beauty, especially driving through central Jersey where they loved to congregate on the roads and with the Jersey stubbornness, refused to move!
But here there was something of awe when I saw this beast. It was like seeing an old friend. We stared at each other and I recognized the deer and the majesty of its creation. The power in its thighs; the beauty of its horns; the thought in the eyes; were awesome in perfection. As we parted ways I watched it bound back to its herd with grace and ease looking like it took no effort at all, though I knew it must have.
This made me think of how we think about Gods creation. Often when things are annoying or in our way, when issues are difficult, or other people are just frustrating we often stop seeing where God is inside them or around the situation. This is very problematic because when we stop seeing God, we also lose respect for how God wants us to deal with or understand the situation.
In fact, I might argue that this is the root of many of the controversies that are present in our world today. From feuds we see from time to time between neighbors to wars and genocides: they start when we stop seeing the presence of God.
This is why Christ reminds us over and over about the need to love God and love our neighbor. They are integrally connected because by loving your neighbor you see and show your love for God. They are also foundational for a healthy society because it is hard to hate when you let God be your guide. Unfortunately, it is too easy some times to forget that, and often things that are truly beautiful are lost to the frustrations, anger, annoyance, etc. of this world.
As we think about Lent and continue this journey, my challenge this week is to think about those who it is hard to see God inside of, those whom you might have called names or said disparaging things about. Ask yourself if can you see the good beyond the bad? Ask yourself what their role may be in God’s Kingdom? Most of all, ask yourself how often you see the bad before the good and what seeing the good first might do for your relationship with God!
Rev. Dr. Bryan James Franzen