How many times a day do you pass people and say something along the lines of, "Hello. How are you"? Five times? Fifteen times? Thirty times? How many of those times do you actually stop to acknowledge their response? I don't mean how many times do your ears hear what they're saying, but how many times do you actually look into their eyes to check if they're simply giving you the socially acceptable (and expected), "Fine, and you?" or if they really, truly are alright.
Certain people pass me in the hallways of my college every day, and they always look me in the eye as they pass and say, "Hey! How ARE you?!" I can reply with any random conglomoration of words such as, "Pink elephants love purple and green Skittles, and you?!" and they will, without fail, respond with, "Good! Thanks!" I always walk away from them wondering why they bother to ask when they obviously don't care about my response. They make me feel invisible.
Over the past several months, I've been carrying some heavy burdens. After the death of a friend last semester, I began to realize how focused I'd become on my problem and how little care I was taking in helping my friends to bear their burdens. I was listening to their troubles and even praying for them, but my heart was tricking me into thinking that I was being selfless. In reality, I was still so focused on my problem that I was neglecting to reach out to others in the smallest of ways that's available to each of us everyday. Sure, I was praying for them. Yes, I was greeting people and asking how they were doing; but my heart was far from truly caring about their responses! I was seeing them physically with my eyes and hearing them with my ears, but that's as far as it went; it was like I was looking at them with my eyes closed!
God brought to mind 1 Peter 5:7, "Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you." I began to realize how I'd been clinging to all of my hurt and my burden instead of casting it at His feet and allowing Him to care for me. By taking my burden upon myself, I was telling God that I didn't want Him to care for me, to help me, to guide me, and I was crippling myself when it came to seeing and helping to bear the needs of those around me.
Sometimes, it isn't a burden in our life that blinds our heart to the needs of others. A desire for a certain thing or relationship can so consume our time and energy that we forget about people. Whenever we allow one thing in our life to become our focus, we'll lose sight of everything else and when our focus is on something in our own life, our entire world will revolve around that one central thing or idea. How much better would it be if we were completely centered and focused on Christ? With our focus on our Heavenly Father, He would be free to bring people across our path who need us to be focused on Him so that, by our testimony and the grace He's given us in our own trials, we can help them bear their burdens. This can only be accomplished when we are stayed on Christ.
When we give our burdens and worries to God, He gives us people to whom we may minister. After the death of my friend last semester, a seemingly random girl came up to me and asked me to pray for a health need back home. Last night, someone asked how my mom is doing with her Lyme Disease; I was able to explain to her what is happening and what the doctors are looking at for treatment options. When I finished, she asked how God could do this to my mom and I shared with her how Job had horrible things happen to him but it was God allowing it in his life that He might receive glory. I talked about the man who was born blind, not because of his sin or his parents' sin, but so that God might be glorified in him. After some time, without me prompting her, my friend looked at me and asked if she could come to church with me. This wasn't an opportunity that I was seeking or one in which I was necessarily even thinking about inviting her to church, but God used this trial to touch her heart. Had I been focused on how horrible it all is and how 'wrong' it is that God is doing this 'to' my mom, I may not have had the chance to see my friend come to church. If I'd been consumed with my burden, instead of having cast it at my Abba's feet, I would have lost an opportunity to be a witness.
I'm learning through all of this to look at people with my eyes and my heart wide open. I am asking God to keep my heart and mind stayed on Him. With my focus on God, I am ready to be used by Him. With my focus on myself, I behold the world and those around me with my eyes and heart "wide closed"; I'm seeing them physically, but they are invisible to my spirit. I never want to walk one more day without being focused on God that I may see the needs of those around me, and be thankful for the things God is doing in me and through me.