South Africa Journal 1: The Difference Between Looking and Seeing

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There’s a big difference between what you look at, and what you actually see. And as I prepare to leave for a two week journey through South Africa, I’m determined to embrace this important difference.

Never was this principle more beautifully captured than in this classic exchange between Charlie Brown, Lucy and Linus:

Lucy: If you use your imagination, you can see lots of things in the cloud’s formations. What do you think you see, Linus?
Linus: Well, those clouds up there look to me look like the map of the British Honduras in the Caribbean. That cloud up there looks a little like the profile of Thomas Eakins, the famous painter and sculptor. And that group of clouds over there gives me the impression of the Stoning of Stephen. I can see the Apostle Paul standing there to one side.
Lucy: Uh huh. That’s very good. What do you see in the clouds, Charlie Brown?
Charlie Brown: Well… I was going to say I saw a duckie and a horsie, but I changed my mind.

Yes, Charlie Brown, there’s a big difference between what you look at, and what you actually see.

When my friends at World Vision Canada graciously invited me back to South Africa again this year, I believe God began to impress this principle on my heart. And my prayer has therefore been to not only look at what is happening in that beautiful country, but to really see what God is up to.

We’ll be traveling with four pastors from churches in BC, Alberta and Ontario, and together we’ll be given a first-hand look at the needs in some of South Africa’s most impoverished regions, and also at what God has been doing in and through World Vision to meet these needs. Based on my travels there with World Vision last year, I know we will also see powerful examples of the gospel changing lives beyond the physical needs of these people too.

But as I prepare to leave I’m very specifically asking God to grant me the grace to experience all of this with His eyes; to see beyond the surface and to perceive what God would have me to understand.

In other words, when I get home and you ask me what I saw in South Africa, I trust I can say more than, “I saw a duckie and a horsie.”

I hope I’ll be able to say, “I saw the hand of our gracious Heavenly Father moving in and through a people He dearly loves.”

May that be true of how each of us perceive our world, wherever we are.

How have you been able to move beyond “looking” and to actually “seeing”?

the author

Scott Cochrane

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