“The angel of the Lord found Hagar near a spring in the desert; it was the spring that is beside the road to Shur. And he said, “Hagar, slave of Sarai, where have you come from, and where are you going?….She gave this name to the Lord who spoke to her: “You are the God who sees me,” for she said, “I have now seen the One who sees me.” Genesis 16: 7, 8, 13
Steve B. and the Invisible Boy
Picture if you will a young adolescent Scott Kingry. It’s kind of hard for me to picture because it was such an awkward time of life. I was a sophomore and just starting High School. I had the fortunate luck of having braces AND glasses AND a bad case of acne. My fashion sense was not very savvy either. I sported some very awesome green plaid pants and matching shirts from JC Penneys. You’d think these glaring nerd attributes would glean some attention (and they did when it came to bullying). But really, I felt mostly invisible at school and at home.
One day I was walking to school by myself in all this fashion glory completely self-absorbed in my thoughts for the coming day. Suddenly, I heard someone say “hi”—was it to me? I looked up and there was Steve B walking out to his car. Now Steve was a junior, handsome with blond feathered hair (it was 1979 after all), a gentle smile filled with white teeth and very popular. I had a rush of feeling soar to my cheeks and caught my breath. He did—he said “hi” to me. I replied with a stumbling, shy “hello” back. Needless to say, I had a big crush on Steve from that day forward. As you can tell, I still remember this simple act of kindness now and the tremendous impact it had on me.
The King Who Sees and Listens
I share this rather embarrassing story because it did have such an impact on me and the power of “being seen”. The effect of such a simple display of attention only highlights the huge deprivation I must have been feeling. We meet a biblical character who must have felt much more distress in this light. In Genesis 16 when Sarah heard her slave Hagar was pregnant (at her request) she began to abuse her. So Hagar fled into the desert—alone, scared, defenseless and with child. There she hears from God who calls her by name. God comforts Hagar and she gives Him the name “El Roi”—the God who sees.
I love this story and think back to it often, especially as I recall the sad lonely teenager I was back then. I felt like Hagar—alone and invisible. It would be the next year that God would enter my own life in a very powerful way. I would be gratefully seen by Him. But God not only sees—He bends His ear to us and listens. In his book, The Listening Life author Adam McHugh gives us a picture of the King who listens. “Listening is who God is. In God’s very being, communication does not move unilaterally but flows back and forth and around the three persons of the Trinity—Father, Son and Holy Spirit. The triune nature of God puts listening right at the center of the universe. God is love, and love requires listening.” Pg 36
God Sees Us….
Can you imagine any earthly King or High Official bowing down to listen to the common folk? God is so good and we see the depth of being seen and heard reflected even more in Jesus. He always saw the poor and marginalized around Him. Sadly, Steve B. is no longer with us. He died at a very young age of a terminal disease. I was shocked and grieved when I heard the news in my late 20’s. I remember being at a party with Steve after High School ended, though I never had an opportunity to know him or even talk with him. Hopefully someday I will have a chance to thank him for “seeing” me when I felt the most invisible in my life. I believe God was seeing me through human skin. What are some places that God “sees” us? Stay tuned for part two.
Some Questions to Ponder
Who are the people in your life who see you—really see YOU?
Who in your life has taken time to really listen attentively to you?
Knowing the impact can be huge on someone—who are the people around me I can take time to see and listen to attentively?
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