It was Daniel Webster who penned the words, "How little do they see what really is, who frame their hasty judgment upon that which seems." The boy 'seemed' dead - he was motionless, limp, seemingly without life. To all appearances, he was a goner. I am so glad God isn't bound by what 'appears' to be, but he is free to take what 'is' and make it what it 'should become'! In my life, that means he has taken what 'appeared' to be without hope and breathed life into those places labeled as 'without hope' and made them alive again! In your life, it can be the same!
There are lots of ways we judge by appearances, aren't there? Some of us do it every time we see someone walk by. Their gait suggested they were tired. Their clothing suggested they didn't take the time to iron that outfit they donned for the day. Their hair standing up on end suggested they got up late and had no time to fix 'the do' before they headed out the door. At first impression, these may be the judgments we make. When we look deeper, though, we understand the 'lazy gait' is really that they just received news their parent has a terminal disease and they are heart-broken inside. The wrinkled clothing isn't because they didn't want to iron them, but that their iron broke and their financial situation won't allow them to buy another one until their next paycheck. The rumpled hair wasn't because they arose late, but that they slept at the bedside of a dying friend last night as they breathed their final breath. Appearances can be quite different from reality - it behooves us to look a little deeper!
What we see on the surface is rarely the way something is - all of us have learned to cleverly mask a certain amount of what we truthfully feel at the moment. It is a rarity to find someone so genuine that they will reveal their true self at each encounter. It is a trust factor - we reveal the most to the ones we trust the most, holding back those things from those we trust the least. The good news is that God doesn't violate our trust - when we are genuine with him, it stays with him! He honors our honesty with his gentle and careful grace sheltering us there in his presence long enough for us to feel safe and secure.
We see the boy so many times in this passage, but think about the father for just a moment. That boy needed to be free. That father was desperate to see his son truly live free of the epileptic seizures that gripped his body and left his lifeless. That father exposed something of himself that day that couldn't have been easy. Not only did he want his boy to be free, he had to admit he had faith, but it wasn't perfect - he had to ask for Jesus to make up what he lacked! It is a liberating moment when we are truthfully honest with Jesus, admitting we have 'lack' of what we need. To do it publicly required even more vulnerability on this man's part! He probably struggled with is boy's disease privately for many years - his son being considered an 'unfortunate outcast' of society. His willingness to expose not only his son, but himself is what Jesus saw and he met him right where he was. His faith didn't have to be perfect - it just had to be declared! Just sayin!