The ears of the audience were destined for a magnificent quality of sound tonight. They watched intently as the soloist arrived at center stage. They gloried for a full twenty minutes of deep resonance and perfect pitch. During that time, the audience could not see the hours of driven practical steps required to achieve this performance. They could not hear the sour notes, the attentive correction of vocal instructors and the rigorous voice strengthening exercises rehearsed day after day after day, hour after hour after hour. The audience saw and heard only this present twenty minute performance.
Life doesn’t happen in moments. It happens in layers of hours and days and years. There is a story unfolding. Our lives happen in one long story. As spectators, we see and hear only glimpses of our neighbors story. We see their lives in a series of performances. We form opinions and carry along ideas based on our limited views and collection of sounds. Not one of us perceives the whole story of our neighbors life.
Ecclesiastes 3 says that there is, “a time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted; a time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up; a time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance; a time to cast away stones,and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing; a time to seek, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and time to cast away; a time to tear, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak; a time to love, and a time to hate; a time for war, and a time for peace.” Each of our lives are in the midst of these “times”. We experience the ebbing and flowing of their seasons in our personal stories. We, alone, walk through the effects of their sights and sounds while spectators glean their glimpses.
Glimpses are not enough to form opinions. They are not sufficient to make full and profound judgments. And yet, we do it anyway. When was the last time you sat yourself down across from your neighbor and listened for an hour or two or three? Have you ever considered committing yourself to listen to another’s story for a week, a month, or even years? When was the last time you committed your heart to the careful consideration of someone’s story? Making yourself a conscious friend? Opening your ears and eyes to the fullness of perspective? For someone’s lifetime perhaps? After all, their life has unfolded in a story. It is longer and deeper than you are aware of right now. You should know their story. And someone should know yours.
God perceives our lives within their respective stories. His eyes and ears and heart have been committed to the conscious cause of knowing your times and seasons. The judgments that He forms are based on careful considerations of your comings and goings, your loses and wins, your knowledge and ignorance and so on and so forth. He knows ALL of you. In Isaiah, it was prophesied of the Christ, that He would leave all judgment of our individual lives to the One who knew the whole story. “He will not judge by what his eyes see, or decide disputes by what his ears hear, but with righteousness he shall judge…” Isaiah 11:3. He would judge our lives from a right condition, a perfect perspective, a proper division of the whole story. Our actions would be tied to their respective motives which would be known within the context of their probable provocations. In other words, He would know exactly why, from our heart and past experiences, we do what we do and say what we say. Jesus Christ would lend His ears and eyes to the Father because the Father knew the whole story of every life that Christ came into contact with. He judges us within our stories, not apart from them.
This is both good news AND good advice to us. We ought also to follow Christ in this. We ought also to lend our eyes and ears to the One who knows the whole story. And we ought also to lend our heart to our neighbor, committing to know their story. Reserve judgment. Embrace your neighbor. Know their story.