This article is courtesy of Image Magazine
and appeared first in May, 1994.
We sat around a table in a busy airport restaurant reminiscing about good times we had shared in college. This unexpected and long overdue interlude was passing too quickly as one flight after another was announced for departure. We hurriedly shared anecdotes about spouses, jobs, and children.
As my friend unfolded his wallet with a family picture, I was saddened to see that his middle child is obviously handicapped. He told me about his familyeach members name and age and something of special interest about every one.
Fully expecting him to mention the childs disability I was surprised when instead he spoke of his daughters funny sense of humor, her special love for art. As he looked fondly at his family he said, I know you cant tell by the picture, but Heather is retarded, her development is delayed. She doesnt look like most handicapped children though; shes a really beautiful little girl.
I wanted to say to him that I had known at first glance that she was different, that something wasnt quite right. But then I looked at him as he looked at her and it was almost as if the photograph changed in front of my eyes.
I was shocked to see this child from her fathers perspectiveshe didnt look handicapped, she was beautiful! Everything that must make her unique and so very special was shining through in that brief moment. I saw a whole and healthy person who is truly loved. I saw her through her fathers eyes!
I know another father, not one I meet by chance but one I encounter purposefully, regularly. I know him well, but not as intimately as he knows me. When I consider a portrait of his children I am astounded to discover that he has not one but many handicapped childrenin fact, they all are. But like my friend in the airport, he seems completely unaware of their disabilities, he see them through the eyes of love. The eyes of a heavenly Father.
What does he see when he looks at his children? Does he see our handicaps, our sins, our weaknesses? What do any of us look like when seen through the eyes of our Father? Three distinct images come together from scripture that give us a glimpse of how God sees us as his children.
First he sees the beauty and joy of his creation. For it was you who formed my inward parts; you knit me together in my mothers womb, I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works
(Psalm 139:13-14). Just imagine the heavenly Father holding each precious child and cooing to him/her as only a parent can with nonsense words of love and admiration.
Second he sees the uniqueness and vulnerability of each child that belongs to him. Jesus describes himself as shepherd and his children as sheep to help us understand our relationship with the Father.
He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. When he has brought out all his own, he goes ahead of them, and the sheep follow him because they know his voice
I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. (John 10:3-4, 11)
He knows each one of us intimatelyby name. Nothing is hidden from him (even the numbers of hairs on our headMatthew 10:30). Yet we need protection and guidance and God provides it for us through Jesus Christ, our brother.
Third we know that the Father recognizes our eternal nature. He has given it to us. He desires that we have an eternal relationship with him. Again Jesus uses the analogy of sheep and shepherd.
My sheep hear my voice, I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they will never perish. No one will snatch them out of my hand. What my Father has given me is greater than all else, and no one can snatch it out of the Fathers hand. (John 10:27-29)
We may rest forever in the fathers armsprecious children cradled in his grasp. No one can alter this sweet and perfect relationship offered to each of us by our loving Father. But it does not stop there.
Not only are we seen by God in these ways, but we learn to view one another differently. Paul writes to the Corinthian Christians about how our vision changes once we know Christ. From now on, therefore, we regard no one from a human point of view; even though we once knew Christ from a human point of view, we know him no longer in that way. So if anyone is in Christ, there is a new creation: everything old has passed away; see, everything has become new! (2 Corinthians 5:16-17)
Our family portrait is forever altered. Each child is seen as a person of beauty and joy, as an individual who is unique and vulnerable, and as one who has an eternal nature. How blessed we are to see through our Fathers eyes!