Years ago, I studied acting and learned that playing other characters makes you know yourself better. I was helped by gifted acting teachers and directors who had a keen awareness of not only human behavior but also the actors they were coaching. The note repeated by several of them was that I was "in my head” too often. When I was in a scene, I was – overthinking it. God revealed to me not to check my pulse (analyzing how I feel about every situation) but rather to live in the moment to love and serve others.
In a blog I read this week, there was a reference to David Brooks’ new book titled How to Know a Person. Brooks says, “Wisdom isn’t knowing about physics or geography. Wisdom is knowing about people. Wisdom is the ability to see deeply into who people are and how they should move in the complex situations of life.” The subtitle of Brooks’ book is The Art of Seeing Others Deeply and Being Deeply Seen. Do we see each other deeply, and are we willing to be seen?
As my thoughts turned to our time for prayer and fasting from January 15th to January 28th, I wondered how many might perceive this? Will people see it just for the deeply religious person? Or for others is it merely transactional? If you spend enough time asking, you will get your answers – for your health, your friend, and our nation. You ask an all-powerful God and he answers.
In Genesis 20:13, Hagar comments about her interaction with the Lord. “So she called the name of the Lord who spoke to her. “You are a God of seeing,” for she said, “Truly here I have seen him who looks after me.” It is a beautiful way to think of prayer and our connection with the Lord. I have seen the one who sees me.
James 4:8 promises that if we “Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you.”
I am reminded of a place where I began to draw near to God. I visited the University of Wisconsin-Madison this past summer with my son. I enjoyed seeing the campus again, though a lot has changed. It was more underwhelming than I anticipated – so many years ago, there were no familiar faces. One of the things that resonated with me was visiting my cherished prayer spots. The spot along the lake where I would go for a run and stop and look over the water and cry out to him in all my confused teenage/young adult angst, and Jesus met me there. The spot in a Lutheran Church where I met with others at noon to confess our sins, praise the Lord, and ask for his guidance. Holy Ground! It resonated because this same God graciously still sees me and meets with me in all my foolishness and anxiety, and when I am overthinking things, he gives me peace.
Having this kind of encounter with God regularly enables you to see others and be willing to be seen because you trust he will never leave you or forsake you. Let's seek him with all of our hearts.