Misreading Living Epistles
Though it is understandable that we do so, it is important that we learn to distinguish between the thoughts that we have, and the act, or even the ability, to communicate those thoughts. Possessing faith, for instance, is necessary for salvation, for rescue from the wrath of God. Professing that faith, on the other hand, while ordinarily a good and important thing, is not, strictly speaking, necessary. I came to learn that value of this distinction when God sent me Shannon.
My little girl, who went home to be with the Lord at age fifteen, never audibly spoke a word. She never said out loud, “Lord be merciful to me a sinner.” She was, however, a sinner. Not much of one mind you, but she was one. I trust, however, that she not only knew things (like that she was a sinner, dependent on the finished work of Christ on her behalf) but that she could communicate things.
Since she has gone, however, some of my confidence in my ability to read her eyes has been shaken. Her departure is making me wonder if perhaps I misread her. For years, when I would have her with me as I took the bread and the wine I would whisper in her ear, “Shannon, Jesus is here, and Jesus loves you.” She would look up to the sky and her face would light up. I thought she was saying to me, “I know Daddy.” Now I think she was looking at Jesus and telling Him, “Isn’t Daddy silly, telling me what You and I already knew? Why can’t he see you as clearly as I can?”
When she walked in her unsteady gait, and I held out my hand to her she stopped, looked at the hand, smiled, snorted, and then looked up at me. I thought she was saying, “Thank you daddy, for helping me be more secure.” Now I think she might have been saying, “Of course daddy, I’d be happy to help you walk steady. I know how much you need me.”
I saw everything backwards. I thought I was protecting her, keeping her safe, when all the while that’s what she did for me. I thought I was, in loving and caring for her, showing her a glimpse of what Jesus is like, when all the while she not only knew him better than I did, but was showing me who Jesus is. I thought I was giving, when all I ever did was receive. I thought I was more mature, more sage than her. But she was my teacher.
When God told Samuel that he should not look at the outside of a man, that God looks at the heart, the point wasn’t that God saw young David’s potential, that God knew he would one day grow big and strong. Rather, God saw what mattered. Had David never grown another inch, he still would have been a man after God’s own heart. In our day, in our circles, brawn isn’t so highly valued as brain. Shannon’s brain was diseased. But her understanding surpassed us all. Man looks at the resume, the IQ, the eloquence. But God looks at the heart. And from her heart she spoke what He put there, the very wisdom of God. What I didn’t see in her eyes, I see now in her absence.