|Barked: Tue Apr 5, '11 7:06am PST |
|Man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.” ”
I Samuel 16:7 (NIV)
The request came via e-mail: “And you’d be speaking in my barn. . . .” Barn?
One thing I’ve learned from giving motivational speeches for a living is that the venue can make or break a presentation. A speech in a brightly lit theater with great acoustics will be much more effective than one given from the corner of a school cafeteria—and I’ve done plenty of the latter.
When I got that request to speak in a barn, I imagined myself presenting from a stage made of stacked hay bales, my voice competing with the sounds of farm animals—a total disaster. It was for an old friend, though, so I said yes.
A few days later, when I pulled up in the driveway and saw the outside of the barn, I thought my worst fears had been confirmed. It was an old wooden structure that had obviously endured several generations of heavy use.
My friend ran over and greeted me.
“When was this place built?” I asked.
“Eighteen fifty-two,” he said. “But we restored it last year.”
Restored it indeed. When we walked in, I discovered that instead of listening to animal noises, I was hearing soft music from ten speakers hanging in the rafters. Rather than hay, the stage was polished wood, illuminated with an array of lights. In short, the so-called barn was, on the inside, one of the best performance venues I’d seen in months.
As I looked over my notes, I wondered how often I make judgments based on a cursory glance at an outward appearance. I walked onstage, asking God to help me avoid making the same mistake with my audience that I had made with that barn.
God, give me the discernment to care about hearts and souls rather than stereotypes and appearances.
By Joshua Sundquist
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