I was heading home from the office and passed by a man mowing his lawn near the street. I noticed that as cars passed he stopped mowing and turned the mower away from the street. I surmised that there was a reason for what he did. Perhaps he had been in a car that was hit by debris from a mower. Or, perhaps he had been mowing when a rock flew from the mower and hit a passing car, or a child, or a window in the house. I wonder about "the rest of the story."
I had always received good service at this particular restaurant, but this day was different. The young lady who seated me was quiet and distracted. The woman who waited on me was abrupt and impatient. Even the man sweeping the floor seemed unusually unpleasant. Something was wrong. Something must have happened. There must be something more to this story.
We were not close to the family, but we saw them regularly and had visited with them a few times. We noticed that the last few times we saw them that the husband was not with them. The reasons varied. "He is at work." "He has gone fishing." "He is not feeling well." There was always a reasonable explanation. However, I later learned that he was no longer in the home. That is part of "the rest of the story."
The man had been a dependable worker for years. He seldom missed a day without a very good reason. He was almost always on time. He always had a positive attitude. His patterns changed. He was coming in late. He looked as if he had not slept. The quality of his work was declining. There was talk that he might lose his job if things continued. We later discovered that his wife was very sick. "The rest of the story" makes a big difference.
So what? What difference does knowing "the rest of the story" make? As we go though our day, we meet many people who tell us their stories. Each person will send a message. Sometimes we get it, sometimes we don't. Many times we miss the real story because we are satisfied with what's on the surface. We often see only what our eyes can see and what our ears can hear. To get the real story, we must look deeper. We must listen with our heart. We must see what most others will not see.
When we know the real story, we can respond differently. When we know the whole story we can understand — we can be sympathetic and we can be empathetic. We can respond to the real person instead of the person he or she presents to the public.
Jesus was able to see beyond the surface. He knew what the disciples were thinking even when they could not admit their selfish ambitions. He knew what His critics were thinking, and spoke to the heart of their issues. When the Spirit lives in us and we are willing to listen with our hearts, we will be able to see and hear beneath the surface, behind the façades, and beyond the barriers. We will be able to respond like Jesus would have us respond because we care about "the rest of the story"!