June 24, 1997
While mutually admiring a photograph of the Rockies, seven-year-old Levi told me he loves being in the mountains. I asked this little lad, “When you stand looking up at them, do they make you feel small?”
He said, “No, I already know I am small.”
The so-called negative realities of life are sometimes difficult for most people to accept. Some “vertically challenged” adults buy shoes with lifts or wear clothes with vertical stripes, anything to appear taller. Two shoe salespeople have related that customers came in insisting they wear shoes two sizes smaller than the pair that fits them. Both clerks admitted scratching off the number and putting the proper-sized shoes in the wrong box, just to make the sale. They understood that these customers are not prepared simply to state the facts and live with them. Perhaps that is why remarks like Levi’s make us say, “Out of the mouths of babes. . . .”
Accepting undesired, unchangeable features is a challenge for many people. Too often we think we should be taller, or slimmer, or have smaller feet, or that our bodies must conform to the vogue in Hollywood or the criteria of New York modeling agents.
That our outside shape dictates our value seems to be an old problem. Somewhere around 1050 BC, the people asked one of God’s prophets to anoint for them a king. He picked Saul. The Bible says Saul was “an impressive young man without equal among the Israelites—a head taller than any of the others.”
Saul also impressed the prophet but after a few years, that same prophet had to boot him from office. This “impressive” king had not kept the commands the Lord God gave him so his tenure as king was over. God asked the prophet to anoint another man.
This time he was directed to a family with several sons. When he saw the height and appearance of the first one, he said, “Surely the LORD’s anointed stands here . . .” but God told him “No.” He added, “Man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.”
Because we see the outside first, we often make evaluations on only that. If a person’s appearance conforms to our idea of good, favorable, well-shaped, lovely, well-muscled, or whatever other measurement we use, then we accept the person. In other words, if “short” is in then Levi will not have a problem with his peers, but if tall is popular, he will be ostracized for being small for his age.
Thankfully, God does not look at Levi or anyone else with those measurements in mind. Instead, He looks for an honest heart, one that will admit that the standards of this world are not reliable. They change from culture to culture, from year to year but God’s standards never change.
For that reason, the Lord looks for people who can say, “Yes, I may be short (if shortness is their particular issue) but I also fall short. I cannot measure up to the standards of God and I know that I need a Savior. I need God’s forgiveness and His help so that I can become all that He wants me to be.”
God also says, “Let not the wise man boast of his wisdom or the strong man boast of his strength or the rich man boast of his riches, but let him who boasts boast about this: that he understands and knows me, that I am the LORD. . . .”
An addition seems appropriate: “Let not the tall, handsome lad boast in his appearance...” Levi, small and ordinary, displays extraordinary humility. He has already taken a giant step towards pleasing God.