I like windows. (Stick with me for a minute and you will see how this applies right now!) Windows come in all sorts of shapes, styles and sizes. I especially like old wooden windows, with small panes, for they have character, and a story to tell. To me, windows speak of possibilities. You never know what you might see when you look out a window. My friend just returned from Italy and had amazing photos of old Italian windows with shutters looking down on narrow, quaint streets. These are the kind of windows I want to look out from. And that is just it, windows are made for looking out. They let light in, but a window also gives a view outward.
As we continue to discuss, “How to begin well,” this idea of looking outward is essential. After Jesus’ interaction with the woman at the well in John 4 (see”just a glimpse” of what) Jesus says to His disciples,
“Behold, I say to you, lift up your eyes and look on the fields,
that they are white for harvest.”
Why does He say this, ”lift up your eyes and look on?” What were the disciple’s eyes focused upon? Their focus or “eyes” seemed to be on their concerns. For one, the disciples seemed to be missing the interaction they stumbled upon between Jesus and the woman at the well. They were more concerned and amazed He was speaking with a woman, than with the significance of the conversation. They were also worried about Jesus having some food. They were concerned with the natural things of their day. Their eyes were on their concerns, not on what Jesus was doing. So Jesus says, “lift up your eyes.”
Open our eyes. Look out and see. See the possibilities. When we are beginning a new semester or endeavor our natural tendency is to get things in order, make a list, and take care of our needs. That is also what the disciples were doing. Their eyes were on their concerns. Jesus says, “lift up your eyes”. In other words— look up, and look outward.
What does Jesus see when He looks out? What does He see when He sees people? His eyes could see the needs of the people around Him. When the disciples were concerned about what to eat, Jesus says that there are other things to be busy about. He says, “that they (the fields) are white for harvest.” There is a harvest out there and it is ready for harvesting. Right now is the opportunity. The people are a harvest. Look at them. Matthew 9:36 helps explain this when it says,
“ (Jesus) seeing the people, He felt compassion for them, because they were distressed and downcast like sheep without a shepherd. Then He said to His disciples, “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few.”’
This is what Jesus sees: people with needs–people who are hurting, discouraged, disappointed and even desperate. These people are a harvest ready for harvesting. They are ready for One who will meet their deepest needs. They just need someone to point them to Him. Looking outward gives us a break from ourselves, and helps us to notice and help others. Look up, and outward.
Here are some ideas for looking outward as you begin this new semester, a new phase in life or just want to try things differently:
Keep your head up, ears unplugged and eyes open. Look at people. Notice the people around you. Ask a question or engage with people when standing in a line or at the bus.
Seek to listen to a person today. Ask a question and listen.
There are people all around you who do not know God’s love. They don’t know this Jesus who sees their need. The first week of class, instead of sitting with people you know, plan to sit with someone you don’t know. Of course, usually where you sit the first days, tends to be your seat for the semester. Do this semester differently. Look outward.
Also, make sure you have extra time in-between things, so you can talk with others. Is there someone at work you could engage with that you would not typically talk to? Is there a next-door neighbor you could meet? Is there someone from a different country you could invite for a meal. Plan to look people in the eyes this day and engage with them.
A window isn’t really a window if it is covered. A window doesn’t do its job if you cannot look out from it. Windows are made for looking out. Windows are also made for letting light come in. Others need to see His light. Let’s begin by having His eyes to see, lifting our eyes and looking outward.
The next post in this series on “How to begin well” is “Just ask” . Check it out, it might be just what you need.
Overflow: allowing God’s ways to touch our lives and then our lives to pour out to others
*What is revealed about Jesus in the above verses? What is He like?
*During this beginning choose one of the ideas above to put into practice today. Make a choice in the days ahead to walk unplugged, to listen and to plan ahead.
*Make a list of 3 people you know that you would like to pray for over the next months, care for practically in some way and share more intentionally with about the One who meets our deepest needs.
3 thoughts on “Looking Outward”
Thanks Amy! I need it to. I am so glad the site is up now and working!
This is a very timely and good reminder for me to look outward as I am very focused on getting our lives in order and details for school taken care of. Thanks Erin!
Thanks for your comment. Yes, I am in the same place. I feel it each day this week. It always challenges me before school starts.