1 Samuel 16:7 – For the Lord does not see as mortals see; they look on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart. (NRSV)
I arrived home tired, still sick, and ready for rest and relaxation. But I forgot that I had to bring in my sheets, so out into the dark I went. On my way back, something clacked and ran across my foot. Unafraid, I dashed for the waiting steps, taking them two at a time until I was in my house. I told myself that fear was not part of the response, but simple fascination, and so I got out my camera, turned on an outside light, and went to confront the beast. At first glance, it looked a lot like a scorpion, but I think it was more like a crab. It probably fell off a vendor's cart.
When I am in a new and strange place, appearances can be, and often are, deceiving. While I work at night, lizards crawl up the wall beside me. The first encounter sent a certain feeling coursing through my body — fear — but now I look at the lizard as the best bug catcher in the place, and the tree toad in the bathroom is a gift from heaven.
Take the neighbourhood dogs for another example. They are bedraggled, sore-infested, and emaciated beasts. Dogs are rarely pets in Guyana, and I tried to avoid them while I was jogging. Then one day, out of nowhere, came this beautiful, well-fed show dog. I called to him as I would any friendly pet at home, and two sets of fangs greeted me. I think he was better fed and better groomed because he was a vicious guard dog, but appearances can be deceiving.
Scripture reminds us that many things can deceive us; they can come to us as "wolves in sheep's clothing". Many things simply have to be experienced before we can determine their places. If we judged by appearances only, we would make many wrong choices.
Prayer: Lord, help us to take time today to get below the surface of what we see, and to seek to understand events and people as they appear to you. Help us to be open to new things, and to be capable of being surprised by what awaits us. In Jesus' name. Amen.