I'm a real sucker for dog photos and videos on the internet. There's something about rescuing dogs that makes us all so very happy because dogs often represent the kind of unconditional love we have yet to find in any human. One of my favorite dog enthusiast magnets says, "Who rescued whom?" The irony is that even though we humans feel we are the provider of the food and home for the new found pup we end up finding our hearts rescued by the warm head in our laps and the wagging tail at the end of a really bad day.
A similar tale is told in the gospels. John 1:43-51 tells the account of two of Jesus' disciples: Phillip and Nathanael. It's the story of how they became part of the Christ's motley crew. Many of the other disciples declared to their family and friends that they had found the Messiah but in this account, Jesus makes it very clear: Jesus saw Nathanael sitting under a fig tree, long before Nathanael saw Him and Jesus set out to include Nathanael. When Phillip, Nathanael's friend, told Nathanael that Jesus was the Messiah, Nathanael, like many of us, looked in disbelief. Questions like, "How do you really know?", "Are you sure?" and statements like, "Not again." likely fell out of Nathanael's mouth.
As Nathanael looked up at the Savior, Jesus said to him, "Before Philip called you, when you were under the fig tree, I saw you." Imagine, you are just sitting there, minding your own business, and Jesus saying, "Before your friend told Me about you, I already saw you." He is called El Roi elsewhere in the Bible. El Roi means, "The God Who Sees". This is one of my favorite names of God because honestly, isn't that all we ever want? We want someone, anyone, to see us. When someone sees us, we know that we matter or that our work is not in vain. When someone sees us when we understand we are all alone, it awakens our heart and our hope that we won't be alone forever.
That's all it took for Nathanael to take the faith leap - to be seen. Nathanael chooses to follow the renegade Messiah because he was noticed and cared for. After Nathanael declares his faith in Jesus, Jesus promises even greater miracles - heaven opening and visions of angels. It's a simple story of being noticed, having faith and witnessing miracles. Nothing complicated and contrived about it all.
If you've ever rescued an animal, you know the feeling. You saw that creature from far off, you noticed him - flaws and all, and you chose to love him anyway. I pray I haven't over-simplified God's love for us but it's so easy to witness this love in all of His creation. He is love and He made us to love. In His kind and loving way, He sent Jesus to love us all, flaws and all. Jesus wants nothing more than to provide the safe and loving home for us and we need to give Him nothing back but our devotion. It could be that you are just like Nathanael - thinking that your friends are the ones bringing the Christ to you when in all reality, He found you first.