Friday, March 1, 2013

Inch By Inch

For ten terrifying minutes, I lost my glasses today.

No.  I didn't set them down in my house and forget where I left them.

No.  I didn't have little hands take them from where I had set them the day before.

I had them removed from my face and cast down to the ground, and they were lost.

I was in the middle of my Friday manual labor at a member's ranch.  I had deemed several branches of cedar unworthy to continue being attached to their particular tree.  They were blocking a right of way, and their removal was necessary in order for a vehicle to drive by.

Several of the branches were too high and too large for me to reach with a clipper, and I had neither saw or ladder.  So, I did the next best thing.  I leaped and grabbed the branch and proceeded to walk backward, bending the branch until it would snap off.

The first three branches were all successful attempts, but the fourth branch was a little larger--and a little greener.  It took quite a bit of effort to bend it to the breaking point, and when that point finally was reached, the resulting expenditure of energy caused me to lose my balance.  I streaked toward the earth.

At the same time my posterior heeded gravity's call, one of the branches on the limb caught just under my glasses and removed them from my face.

"Uh oh!" I thought.  And it was time for a break.  I had to find my glasses.

I cannot drive legally without them.  I cannot see clearly at distance without them.  They are a necessary part of my life if I am to complete certain chores during the day.  And now, they were gone.

I looked and looked on the ground.  All I saw were cedar leaves and broken branches and accumulations of dirt.  No glasses.  I crawled around on hands and knees swinging my head side to side in a vain attempt to see them lying on the ground.  The rims blended in perfectly with the sticks, and of course, clear plastic is the perfect camouflage for something to remain hidden.

After some time searching, I found nothing.

I left my work gloves close to the spot where I had fallen, and I went to examine the broken branch.  Perhaps the glasses still clung to it.

Not a chance.

I went once more back to the spot where I took the tumble.  I scanned the ground.  I saw nothing.

And then, I knew what I must do.  It was something I learned from my father many years ago when he had lost something in the yard.  I saw him one day, walking across the lawn putting one foot directly in front of the other.  He didn't move his head from side to side, he just looked right in front of where he was placing his feet.  When he had covered a certain area, he pivoted around and walked back on another line just inches where he had been before.  He didn't move his head side to side once again.  He just looked straight down.  He covered very little ground using this method, but he was making a very thorough search.

And eventually, he found what he was looking for.

Sometimes, when things seem hidden, you must be patient.  You must not rush.  You must not try to take in too much territory with glances and hope that you might catch a glimpse of what is lost.  You must make a thorough search, inch by tedious inch, and then you will find what you seek.

I got down on my hands and knees.  I began moving my hands across the ground not only using my eyes but my sense of touch.  I peered directly over my hands.  From right to left for two solid feet.  From left to right for two solid feet covering just a few inches higher.  From right to left, and there were my glasses!  My eyes had roamed over the spot several times earlier, but to no avail.  But with patience; with persistence; with a willingness to notice every detail, I finally saw them.

Sometimes, I think seeing God's activity in the world is kind of like that.  We rush through life turning our heads right and left trying to see as much as possible.  We try to take in anything and everything as we move, but we miss much.  There are so many details that escape.  Our eyes certainly "see" it, but our brain doesn't have time to put the picture together.  It fills in the blanks, and we miss what we are seeking--particularly if it is God's handiwork in our lives or in the lives of others.

If you by chance are looking for where God might be in your life, take a lesson from someone who learned a lesson a long time ago.  Slow down.  Have patience.  Don't try to catch a glimpse.  Examine every inch of ground, and you will find what you are looking for.

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