Exegeting Culture part 1: Developing Eyes to See

Welcome back.

I’m looking forward to reading your input to a series of thoughts on exegeting culture. Enjoy.

London, England
4.44 PM

Most of us believe we know what we think we see. Then there are those who see the invisible.

Erica, my (then) 14 year old daughter, and I were outbound on a mission into the heart of Europe, and passed the time chatting as we walked through LAX (aka Los Angeles International Airport).

It’s like drawing, she said. “Drawing is all about learning to see.”

Yes, drawing is all about learning to see, I said.

The inexperienced artist –that would be me — tries to draw by memory rather than by observation, by what we think we see rather than what we see. In other words, most of us sketch by looking more at our sketch pad than the subject we are sketching.

“Watch mom draw sometime,” she said. “You’ll notice how much she looks away from her drawing and towards what she is trying to draw. She really tries to see the subject. Learning to draw is all about learning to see.

For example, Erica, I said, As we walked towards the gates. Most people in this airport don’t know about the Red Carpet Rooms.

What’s that?

They’re lounges used by frequent flyers and business people, I said.

Suddenly, as if coordinated by the finger of God, the wall to our left opened. The doors were painted in such a way that it blended with the walls on both sides well. One would have to know it was there to see it.

“There,” I said feeling quite like a magician. We both walked looking left-ward through the wall into a room of comfortable chairs with a bar and tvs.

Whoa, she said. The sliding doors closed. What was that?

I looked up to read the signs to make sure we’re going in the right direction.

Gates 70-77
Restrooms
Red Carpet Room

“Check it out,” I said.

Erica looked up and read the signs with amazement. Suddenly all of the clues began to pop up and out. The world was new. She knew what she was seeing. a whole new world existed behind this wall that was not a wall but a door, a sliding door. And signs pointing to it were everywhere. Red Carpet Room, Erica said.

I love it when she nods her head and gets this smile on her face, like she’s been let in on a little secret. Red Carpet Room, I said.

People draw what they think they see not what they’re looking at. Learning to draw, learning to lead, and learning to live have this in common: it’s all about learning to see.

What do you think?

Into the mystic…

Alex McManus

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16 thoughts on “Exegeting Culture part 1: Developing Eyes to See

  1. Isn’t it all about tearing the scales off our eyes like Ananias did for Paul? The followers of Christ have had the spiritual blinders removed and a world of newest wonder and depth is available for us to explore now that we know Who is behind it all, what our place is and what our mission is here on Earth… May we never allow ourselves to wander away from the one who washes the mud off our eyes…

  2. Hey Alex, All you wrote is so true. But then I also think Lori is heading in the right direction. We do need to learn to see, as you say, but then, once we become Christ followers, we have to unlearn what we “see” and begin to try to see what Jesus sees. I think the concept is the same, but I don’t think seeing like Jesus sees just happens. In those rare moments when I feel like I am moving in the right direction it is often when I have stopped and aksed Jesus to help me see what I am looking at the way He sees it. Blessings, Max

  3. it’s not just about what we see, but seeing and sometimes believing through the eyes of others. alex, your story with your daughter is very fitting. she had to see it from your perspective, because her’s was limited… but more than that she had to believe that your perspective was just as valid and valuable as her own.

    it’s like those blurry picture puzzles that if you stare at them long enough there is a “3-d” picture that appears. i have a lazy eye that throws off my depth perception. so, even though i got 4 of these for one birthday, i have to take the word of others that there are actually pictures in there… because i can’t see them.

  4. i agree. in fact, i think that’s what faith boils down to. learning to see what isn’t directly in front of you. God isn’t always obvious, and you almost have to look beyond what you think you see to get at what God is really showing you. So many people just dismiss this and say forget it – it’s not there. That’s probably one of the big struggles in terms of realizing there is a God. Just being able to see his existance. Once that we’re able to see that God is there, then we can go forth and truly live and then we can lead.

  5. I am not an artist by any stretch of the imagination. Like so many I fail to see and behold the Subject. So as a leader I have my head down, drawing plans for our ministry, hoping to God I get it right. Then in a Divine moment, I see it, I see the Red Carpet arrow…this usually happens when I’m outside, swimming in people…

  6. Good Stuff here

    When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them… (Matthew 9:36)

    The old saying, “Can’t see the forest for the trees” holds true here. Or maybe, “Can’t see the people because of the crowd” would be a better rendition. Jesus saw people in the crowds while the disciples often saw them as a nuisance. I prayed that God would send me to a place that needs lots of new churches. Now, I have to put up with crowded roads and long lines. That is how he answered my prayer :). Every once in a while, He helps me to see people in need of Him.

  7. Thanks for inviting us all into another slice of the world through your eyes Alex.

    I think what’s amazing about ‘mystic warriors’ gathering together is not that they learn to see more of the creator in each other or in their midst, but that they see more and more of the creator everywhere else they go.

    The signs are everywhere… may we learn to show others the beauty of the who’s already here.

  8. alex- sorry I missed writing yesterday. I enjoy the interplay you have with Erica. I think you are on to something. I also think that we need to have expectant eyes. There was an old song that asked God to “open my eyes that I might see. . .” One of the greatest part of my day is asking God for divine appointments and to open my eyes to see his heart. People are such a gift and it is cool to see them thru God’s eyes

  9. Great post Alex.

    Try doing a word search in the bible on “lift your eyes” or “lift up your eyes”. Its all over the place. God has set us in a place to see beyond the day to day but we tend to keep our noses down, looking at the dust around our feet. It is an amazing thing to see the light come on when people look past the ordinary and begin to see the extraordinary in even the simplest things.

  10. Alex,

    Loved the sessions with you on Thursday and Friday in Michigan! Just wanted to drop you a line and let you know that Aaron and I will be out to LA on October 30th and are planning to be at Mosaic that night. Would love to catch up with you then.

    Scott

  11. Alex-

    Welcome back. Did you make it through customs unscathed? Did your luggage?

    Thanks for taking time to hang with us in Montreal. Beau and I were so happy to be able to catch up with you again and see what God is doing in and through Lorenzo. We’re looking forward to going back with a team, maybe as soon as this summer!

    Kelly and I will have to figure out a way to LA to see you guys again!
    Keep me posted on all upcoming events.

    Steve

  12. Steve,

    As I went through the inspection point I reached into my pocket –where I had the luggage– to clear out any coins that might set off the buzzer. I was surprised to discover that it wasn’t in my pocket.

    I remembered then that I had taken it out of my pocket in order not to bend it when I sat down to drive to the airport. When I left the rental I must have left it on the passenger seat in front.

    Too bad because it would have easily made it through. Even thought the attempt was nothing noble like smuggling a Bible, it would have made a great gift for one mystic warrior in Chicago.

    Great hanging with you guys.

  13. I am presently reading Erwin’s books. My spirit is soaking in everything that you guys are doing. You have so much good stuff online, it is amazing. Looking forward to reading your newsletters and getting in on the talks.

    JIM

  14. Maybe its learning to see Christ. Read this story and you’ll understand what I mean: A committee of ministers in a certain city was discussing the possibility of having D. L. Moody to serve as the evangelist during a city-wide evangelistic campaign.
    Finally, one young minister who did not want to invite Moody stood up and said: “Why Moody? Does he have a monopoly of the Holy Spirit?”
    There was silence. Then an old, godly minister spoke up: “No, he does not have a monopoly of the Holy Spirit; but the Holy Spirit has a monopoly of D. L. Moody.”

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