In the Eyes of the Beholder

By John Ballinger

June 22, 2015

A few days ago, my wife was going into a restaurant the same time as an elderly gentleman. He walked with a cane and was stooped over so his range of sight was limited. They exchanged hellos and then he said laughingly, “Those sure are fancy toes you have.” She was wearing sandals and so her nicely painted iridescent-blue toes were in plain sight. Of all the things he could have noticed and made mention of it was her toe polish glowing in the sunlight that caught his eye.


I thought it was a great example of the way some people view the world. With his physical condition, his eyes were turned down more than most of us. His world consisted of watching where he would take the next step—and he saw beauty. If we were to spend our days constantly looking down (and no, I don’t mean obsessing over our cell phones), what would we see? Would we see sidewalks and grass and gravel or would we see there is beauty everywhere even within our limited view?


We have all heard the line “beauty is in the eye of the beholder.” It is amazing—and sad— the number of people who miss so much of the beauty around them. We have neighbors who hire companies to spray harsh chemicals on their lawns to get rid of dandelions. Why? If these beautiful yellow flowers that eventually turn into cascades of floating seeds were rare people would pay big bucks for a yard full. To me, they are only here for a short time and are a sure sign that spring has arrived—and besides, who doesn’t love to relive their childhood by blowing on those dandelion seed balls and watching the individual seeds drifting away in the wind?


Plain green lawns are boring. Seeing one green lawn after another would be as boring as seeing everyone in the world dressed the same. There would be no beauty. There would be no uniqueness to celebrate and that is not how God intended it. The creator of this world made sure there was variety in everything.


Take, for instance, the hummingbird. This time of year, they flit from flower to flower and hopefully every once in a while to the feeder we put out. If I see a shiny green one with a red throat, my knowledge of birds tells me that is a ruby-throated hummingbird, and that is as far as my understanding goes—but did you know there are actually over 300 species of hummingbirds in the world? That’s amazing! 300! Why would God go to all that trouble of custom designing 300 when I’m sure one could have done the job? Could it be he needed 300 to keep the planet in proper balance or did he simply want us to enjoy that much variety and beauty? Did he want us to see that it takes the uniqueness of 300 different hummingbirds to do the job—just like it takes the uniqueness of each of us to do the job?


Beauty is in the eye of the beholder when we begin to notice the little things that make this world complete. I admire the man whose scope of view was limited and yet not only found my wife’s toenails “fancy” but shared with her his enjoyment in seeing a beautiful color.


The psalmist writes: “I have asked one thing from the Lord— it’s all I seek: to live in the Lord’s house all the days of my life, seeing the Lord’s beauty and constantly adoring his temple” (Psalm 27:4, CEB).


Make a vow right now to slow down your life and as the old saying goes “take time to smell the roses.” Immerse yourself in God’s big world, taking the time to enjoy the beauty all around you. The gentleman’s perspective might have been limited because of physical issues, don’t let your own self-imposed narrow perspective keep you from missing these great gift from the Lord. Resolve today to see the beauty—large and small, animate and inanimate—in your life.

Keywords: psalms
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