Often times, as we go through life we become blind to the things that are taking place around us. This isn’t an intentional thing that we do – it’s just a reality. Whether it is the pair of socks that I left on the bathroom counter for a week and now no longer even see, or it’s the homeless person posted up at the onramp to the freeway that I drive past every day, I tend to stop noticing those things that are familiar.
Recently as I was studying the book of Acts, I was brought to the passage in chapter 3 where Peter and John were on their way to pray at the temple, where they would pass the familiar face of the lame man who was placed by the entrance daily. I can just picture this scene in my mind almost like my own experience of entering the onramp to the freeway. I could drive right by the guy without even thinking about it, listening to KWVE minding my own business. But they didn’t walk past this man. Instead the Bible says, “Peter directed his gaze at him, as did John, and said, “Look at us.” (Acts 3:4). Could you imagine being the lame man who everyone ignored, who was utterly helpless due to his condition, and who probably had very little hope for a future of any type? Then two strangers come along and intentionally engage him.
This reminds me of when I used to be a beach lifeguard. We didn’t have the luxury of taking for granted our surroundings even though we were gazing upon the same old beach day after day. If we did we would run the risk of missing something and possibly losing a life because we were not staying on point. Being intentional about watching the people and our surroundings was what we trained for. If a flanking tower went down on a rescue, I would stand and watch that tower’s water and the tower to the other side of him would do the same. We also had certain areas of the beach that were notorious for problems. One such place was under the pier. A pier poses issues by itself because of the waves crashing against the pilings. However at the beach that I worked at, we had a seawall that paralleled the pier hugging it on the north side about a third of the way out. This caused a stretch of beach to the south side of the pier to have waves that crashed directly on the shore. I happened to be working the tower that covered this area in the middle of summer, the busiest time of the year. The area between the tower and the pier had quite a few kids playing. They would run away from the waves as they came crashing in and then follow them back out as the water receded. There was nothing unusual about this since this is what kids do for the most part at the beach. Of course their parents were doing what they do and that means they weren’t paying much attention to what the kids were doing. So that left the burden on the lifeguard on duty, which was me. The swell that day wasn’t that large but it moved with pretty good power since it crashed right on the sand. Taking all these different elements into consideration, I decided to keep an eye out for the kids that were playing. Then as I was looking in the general direction of the kids I noticed one of the smaller kids got his legs knocked out from under him and he was getting sucked right back out into the oncoming waves. I jumped off my tower without my buoy and fins since there was no time for them and ran directly out to where I could see him take his last panicked breath as we went under water. I dove into the water right where I last spotted him and grabbed him and lifted him right over my head so he could take a breath as I was still under the deep water. I got him safely back on to the sand. He was pretty shaken up but wasn’t hurt. All this to say, I had to be intentional to know my surroundings and intentional to watch the people in order to save this young boy’s life.
Often times we are in a place where there are people who are hurting and we don’t even notice them because we are unintentionally oblivious. This might be because we are familiar with the place or the people but that doesn’t give us an excuse. Peter and John had probably walked through that area plenty of times and this time they had purposed to notice the man that was lame. The Bible goes on to say that Peter said to the man, “I have no silver and gold, but what I do have I give to you. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, rise up and walk!” (Acts 3:6). Notice Peter in himself had nothing to give, but what he gave came from Jesus. Who has God put around you to notice to and to intentionally engage? What are you going to give them when you do engage them? I would encourage you to ask the Lord to point out people in your everyday experience who He would have you engage and to prepare your heart and mind for that moment so you would not be giving of yourself but from the overflow of His Spirit in your life.