On a recent airline flight, I gazed through the window pane and marveled at the variety of clouds suspended in the air. As far as my eye could see, clouds floated about. Some appeared large and round, while others resembled a package of cotton balls. I wondered at their beauty. Later in the flight, the clouds shifted to thin layers; whispy and airy. Noticing the clouds from above represented a different view than I usually have.

With my feet upon the earth, the shape and texture of clouds pops against the backdrop of the deep blue sky. This is my perspective most of the time, but only if I am looking at them. Did you know there is a “Cloud Appreciation Society”? Members practice the art of noticing clouds and their unique and magnificent shapes, colors, and locations.

If we aren’t careful, we might miss seeing the clouds. If our focus remains fixed on the details before us, we fail to see what floats above. When was the last time you noticed the clouds?

Just like noticing the clouds above you, are you aware of the people around you? Do you see the people who cross your path, live in your home, or serve in the same workplace? 

The story of Hagar in Genesis 16 presents a poignant story of being noticed. She fled her home with a broken heart. Anguish and pain filled her soul as she wondered if anyone noticed or cared about her existence. The angel of the LORD noticed Hagar. He asked her questions and provided space for authentic sharing. Words of encouragement, direction, and hope flowed from the angel toward Hagar. Although mistreated and displaced, God had a plan for Hagar and the child she carried. Hagar realized the gift she received from God: He noticed her. She gave God a special name, “You are the God who sees me.” (Genesis 16:6-13)

Soak in that truth for a moment – God sees you! He notices you and the details of your life. What a gift!

Pause for another moment – How have you experienced “The God who sees”? Recall how it felt to be seen, to be noticed. 

Ponder another question – Would you be described as one who notices and sees the people in your path? 

In what ways can we cultivate attentiveness to not only the clouds in the sky, but more importantly the people around us?

  • It’s hard to notice others with your eyes glued to a mobile phone, computer, or the TV. Maybe it’s time to resist the electronics-tether and pay attention to the created image-bearers God presents before you. 
  • It’s hard to notice others when we begin work early, stay late, and focus on a multitude of tasks simultaneously. Perhaps, it’s necessary to develop more balanced work rhythms. 
  • It’s hard to notice others when we are consumed with self. Could it be that by practicing humility and serving others the attitude of the apostle John develops: “I must decrease, He must increase”? 
  • It’s hard to notice others when we live life on turbo speed. To be conscientious we need to slow down, embrace margin, and value people over projects and plans.

To notice clouds, we just need to look up. The same is true for people. To see them and not just look through them, we need to open our eyes. But how do we do this?

Set your agenda aside and engage with the heart of the person in front of you with open questions. Like the angel of the LORD, ask thoughtful and meaningful questions and await a response, even if it is slow in coming. Instead of insisting on your own perspective, allow vulnerability and honesty about the issues of life. Just as Hagar opened up, provide a trustworthy and safe space to receive and share. Then, offer support, a kind word, prayer, words of wisdom, and most of all the loving care of God. 

We get to follow God’s example of seeing others, noticing them, and being aware of their presence.

The next time your spouse walks in the door, notice each other, stop your activity and give focused attention. Notice. When your kids run through the house, smile and play along with them. Notice. If your neighbor drops by, pour a glass of tea and talk about the day. Notice. Pay attention to the downcast face of a family member, friend, or even stranger, and offer the gift of presence. Notice. Move beyond superficial and shallow questions with your co-worker; speak of God’s movement, tender conviction, and faithful character. Notice. When at the grocery store, look the cashier and bagger in the eye and offer a word of gratitude. Notice. 
 

So, go outside, take a walk, look up and notice the clouds. Wonder about their airy design. And, look around you, someone is just waiting to be seen not only by the God of the universe, but by you. Notice.

Drips from the Word: Muse about these Bible verses. Let these truths impact your living.

Exodus 3:16
“Go, assemble the elders of Israel and say to them, ‘The Lord, the God of your fathers—the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob—appeared to me and said: I have watched over you and have seen what has been done to you in Egypt.

1 John 4:20
Whoever claims to love God yet hates a brother or sister is a liar. For whoever does not love their brother and sister, whom they have seen, cannot love God, whom they have not seen.

Splashes from the Spigot: Drink from deep wells. Check out these suggested readings.

Mike Mason. Practicing the Presence of People: How We Learn to Love. Colorado Springs, CO. 1999.

Kaylee Andrade. The God Who Sees: Trusting God in the Midst of the Desert. CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform, 2017.

Puddles for Prayer: Thank you for praying for upcoming travel and speaking engagements.

August 6-9 – Seattle, WA
Kurios Gospel Forum. Fan the Flame of Your Soul.