Lenten Devotional: Friday, March 23

by Hope Cook
Proverbs 4:25: Let your eyes look directly ahead. And let your gaze be fixed straight in front of you.

I’m sure I’m taking this verse out of context, but the point I saw was keeping your eyes open and noticing what’s right in front of you instead of being lost in the thoughts in your head.  Three times God has tried to show me this in the last day:

1. I read about being on vacation or on a trip (like I’m on right now) and how we have a hard time just being there and enjoying it — breathing, looking around, noticing.  Instead, we immediately think dozens of thoughts like, “I think I should take some pictures or videos to capture this moment,” or we think, “I wish my spouse was here to enjoy this with me.”  Our brains shift into noticing what’s not right or what could be improved instead of just being aware of these thoughts and still being present in the moment.  This morning I was the only one up at 5:08.  The sun was coming up in Honduras, roosters had been crowing since 3:30 and I was mesmerized by the beauty of the sky and the ocean(see photo).  That is, until I started thinking about how I should text a picture to my friend, and maybe I should Facetime my family so they could see it, or maybe I should journal about it.  I picked up my pen and journal and diverted my eyes from the beauty of the sky to begin writing.  The pen ran out of ink after three words were written on the paper.  I decided this was  a sign and maybe God wanted me to look up and enjoy the wonderful chance to watch His awesome sunrise through the palm trees.  Stop what you’re doing for a moment or two today.  Look up, take a deep, full breath into your lungs.  Put down your pen and your phone.  Look someone in the eyes.  Smell the air around you.  Touch a flower or a bush on your way to the car and notice the texture.  This is your one wild and precious life, so for goodness sake, don’t you dare waste it.

2. Yesterday I had a mom bring in her two fat, beautiful 4-month-old baby girl twins for diarrhea and cough.  I examined them and found no signs of anything other than “worm belly,” so I gave them the medicine for worms and briefly talked about watching for signs of dehydration.  As I talked to the mom, my eyes kept going to one of the twins who was a little smaller than her sister.  She was smiling the whole time and drooling a lot.  My eyes then settled on her almond shaped eyes and the shape of her head —  down syndrome.  That’s why she looked different (see photo of babies with my translator).  It was subtle, but the more I thought about it and got a few others’ opinions, it was quite obvious that one twin had Down’s.  Mom had no idea.  My translator talked and talked with mom.  As she pointed out each feature, mom would shake her head.  She honestly didn’t see any difference in the two girls.  Sometimes we are blind to what’s right in front of us.

3. Look at the strangers in front of you, don’t get that glazed look when you’re “dealing” with them.  One of our translators is a little on the haughty side.  This white haired lady grew up with missionary parents in Honduras, and she’s translated for hundreds of mission groups and aide organizations like Mercy Ships.  So maybe she’s a little fed up with helping people.  Yesterday I heard her loudly yelling in angry Spanish to some ladies to back up and move away from the farmacia (pharmacy).  She later said at supper that she could’ve punched one ungrateful old lady (this is making her sound terrible, but we all vent about our jobs at supper to some degree) because the lady had fussed about us running out of some of the medicines by the end of the day.  Our translator barked back at her in Spanish that she should be grateful that we were even there to give her any medicines at all.  This was a fair point, but if she’d stopped to look at the woman or talk to her, she would know that this was a 70-year-old grandmother who had walked many miles with three kids under the age of 6 to get medicine for them.  She may have seen that the grandmother didn’t look like two of the lighter-skinned children. The grandmother had been my patient earlier and I’d heard that she was raising three children who weren’t her own and struggling financially to keep doing so.  Only one was a blood relative.

Let your eyes notice those around you.  Make eye contact, smile, notice.  See them, really see them.