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Thursday, August 27, 2009

The Seen and the Unseen

(Jesus) sat down opposite the treasury and observed how the crowd put money into the treasury. . . . A poor widow also came and put in two small coins worth a few cents. Calling his disciples to himself, he said to them, "Amen, I say to you, this poor widow put in more than all the other contributors to the treasury." (Mark 12:41-43)

No one knows much about the widow in this text. But she's easy to imagine. I’ve met her many times.

She’s the one others walk by without noticing. She's the one who lives among other invisibles on the fringes of humanity. They perform menial jobs, honest and necessary work, but disdained by most in our culture. They’re itinerant farm-help, moving from field to field. They’re janitors in department stores, dishwashers in restaurants. They empty trash at food courts and clean toilets in office buildings. They do what they can to scrape together enough to pay rent and buy food.

I imagine the impoverished widow lived like that – working where she could to make tattered ends meet. Yet, despite her poverty, she loved God. Despite her deprivation, she felt privileged to honor Him above herself. That’s why she wove her way to the collection box through that unseeing crowd.

And that’s why the Lord Jesus noticed her.

We shouldn’t glide past this Bible text too quickly. When others receive bigger, better and more, Jesus knows our name. When others receive applause from the crowds, Jesus sees us in the shadows. He notices our loneliness, our poverty and sacrifices. He knows us when others don’t. He hears us when others turn an unhearing ear.

The widow left the Treasury unaware that the Lord had read her heart. And two thousand years later, millions of men and women still learn how to live from her example.

No one among the unseeing that day understood how great a legacy a poor widow would have. And even today, how many understand what God will do with our lives if only we are faithful?

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