Seeing The Unseen
29X49 Acrylic on Board, Framed
*A bit of a long read but I hope it’s worth your time.
My nephew came to me one day all excited. He said, “Uncle G, I have an idea for you. It is a fish I think you should paint.” I looked at his excitement and the smile on his dad’s face and became really curious about this great new idea. He showed me a photo of the fish and immediately I paused on excitement. All I could say was, “maybe on day buddy?” My unenthusiastic no didn’t stop him. The next couple of times he saw me there was the question. “Uncle G, did you paint that fish yet?” I thought to myself, “Why does he want me to paint this thing? It is hideous.” (Insert sigh) A BLOBFISH, really? You can look it up on google. It won the ugliest fish award in 2013. Why would anyone paint that ugly thing?
I am truly thankful that the Lord is rich in mercy and has pity on me because my own ways of thinking can be very ugly sometimes. I am talking about my heart issue here.
As I sat this morning asking the Lord to teach me something as I read in Luke 17 about Jesus and the ten leper’s I thought about the blobfish from a year or so ago. There were ten yelling from a distance asking to be healed. Jesus said to go and see the priests. They did and they were cleansed on the outside. Only one, a Samaritan, came back and dropped down in front of Jesus with a thankful heart. He was made well in His heart. It was all about what is on the inside. A changed and thankful heart that only faith could change. Jesus command was to rise and go. Take that heart with you.
Insert flashback of nephew asking me to paint an ugly fish. He saw something I didn’t. How many times have I been so short sighted and self consumed. Jesus looked at a man that was not just a leper but also a Samaritan and saw something that others didn’t see. A faith changed grateful heart.
Did you know that the blobfish is actually not really an ugly fish at all? It only becomes ugly when it is taken out the environment that it was originally created to live. However, when people take a fish then pull it out it’s environment it becomes distorted and eventually dies. Afterwards we take a picture of it and award it the ugliest fish.
I just read a story by an unknown author that helps recap this message to me as a believer and I thought I would share it with you.
The Old Fisherman
Our house was directly across the street from the entrance of a popular hospital in the city. We lived downstairs and rented the upstairs rooms to out patients at the clinic. One summer evening as I was fixing supper, there was a knock at the door. I opened it to see a truly awful looking man.
“Why, he’s hardly taller than my eight-year-old,” I thought as I stared at the stooped, shriveled body. But the appalling thing was his face–lopsided from swelling, red and raw. Yet his voice was pleasant as he said, “Good evening. I’ve come to see if you’ve a room for just one night. I came for a treatment this morning from the eastern shore, and there’s no bus ’till the morning.”
He told me he’d been hunting for a room since noon but he had no success as no one seemed to have a room. “I guess it’s my face. I know it looks terrible, but my doctor says with a few more treatments…”
For a moment I hesitated, but his next words convinced me: “I could sleep in this rocking chair on the porch. My bus leaves early in the morning.” I told him we would find him a bed, but to rest on the porch.
I went inside and finished getting supper. When we were ready, I asked the old man if he would join us “No thank you. I have plenty.” And he held up a brown paper bag. When I had finished the dishes, I went out on the porch to talk with him a few minutes.
It didn’t take a long time to see that this old man had an oversized heart crowded into that tiny body. He told me he fished for a living to support his daughter, her five children, and her husband, who was hopelessly crippled from a back injury.
He didn’t tell it by way of complaint; in fact, every other sentence was prefaced with a thanks to God for a blessing. He was grateful that no pain accompanied his disease, which was apparently a form of skin cancer. He thanked God for giving him the strength to keep going.
At bedtime, we put a camp cot in the children’s room for him. When I got up in the morning, the bed linens were neatly folded and the little man was out on the porch. He refused breakfast, but just before he left for his bus, haltingly, as if asking a great favor, he said, “Could I please come back and stay the next time I have a treatment? I won’t put you out a bit. I can sleep fine in a chair.”
He paused a moment and then added, “Your children made me feel at home. Grownups are bothered by my face, but children don’t seem to mind.” I told him he was welcome to come again.
On his next trip he arrived a little after seven in the morning. As a gift, he brought a big fish and a quart of the largest oysters I had ever seen. He said he had shucked them that morning before he left so that they’d be nice and fresh. I knew his bus left at 4:00 a.m. and I wondered what time he had to get up in order to do this for us.
In the years he came to stay overnight with us there was never a time that he did not bring us fish or oysters or vegetables from his garden. Other times we received packages in the mail, always by special delivery; fish and oysters packed in a box of fresh young spinach or kale, every leaf carefully washed.
Knowing that he must walk three miles to mail these, and knowing how little money he had made the gifts more precious. When I received these little remembrances, I often thought of a comment our next-door neighbor made after he left that first morning. “Did you keep that awful looking man last night? I turned him away! You can lose roomers by putting up such people!”
Maybe we did lose roomers once or twice. But oh! If only they could have known him, perhaps their illnesses would have been easier to bear. I know our family always will be grateful to have known him; from him we learned what it was to accept the bad without complaint and the good with gratitude.
Recently I was visiting a friend who has a greenhouse. As she showed me her flowers, we came to the most beautiful one of all, a golden chrysanthemum, bursting with blooms. But to my great surprise, it was growing in an old dented, rusty bucket. I thought to myself, “If this were my plant, I’d put it in the loveliest container I had!” My friend changed my mind.
“I ran short of pots,” she explained, “and knowing how beautiful this one would be, I thought it wouldn’t mind starting out in this old pail. It’s just for a little while, till I can put it out in the garden.”
She must have wondered why I laughed so delightedly, but I was imagining just such a scene in heaven. “Here’s an especially beautiful one,” God might have said when he came to the soul of the sweet old fisherman. “He won’t mind starting in this small body.”
“Wesley, here is your blobfish. Forgive me for not painting it sooner.”
- Uncle G🎣