Seeing What You're Looking For

Jesus spoke to the crowds about John, “What did you go out into the desert to see?” 

Matthew 11:7           

The people flocked to John the Baptist when he preached at the Jordan River. Jesus asked them what they went out there to see. It’s a good question because we almost always see the thing we’re looking for.   

Focus, for example, on the color blue, and you will see it everywhere.  


Jacques Plante is, perhaps, the greatest goalie who ever played hockey. He led the Canadiens to six Stanley Cups and was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1978.  

Plante was an innovative genius. He was the first goaltender to play the puck outside the crease, the first to skate behind the net to stop the puck for defensemen, the first to raise his arms to signal an icing call to his teammates, the first to regularly wear a face mask – which enabled him to throw his body to stop a shot.  

Yet, Plante realized that the fans noticed his occasional mistakes far more than his brilliant play in goal. He once asked, “How would you like a job where, if you make a mistake, a big red light goes on and eighteen thousand people boo?”  

We tend to look for mistakes.  


Sometimes, when teaching a class, I would take my black marker and make one small dot in the middle of the whiteboard.  

“What do you see?” I’d ask.  

“A black dot.”  

“Anything else?”  


Then I’d explain that what they were seeing was a large expanse of white, yet we become so focused on the little black dot that the whiteness of the board “disappears.”  

When we focus on other people’s faults, we will see them.  There’s nothing wrong, of course, with wanting to help people with their shortcomings, but a critical spirit is harmful because it distorts reality. We no longer see the good characteristics of others when what we want to see are other people’s faults.  


When Philip Yancey moved to Colorado, he learned about noxious weeds which were threatening the survival of native plants. In his book, Prayer, he writes about buying a weed-puller and walking up the hill behind his house to look for noxious weeds. He would spot oxeye daisy, Russian thistle, and toadflax.  

One day, Yancey’s wife accompanied him and pointed out more than twenty species of wildflowers. Philip said, “I had been so intent on finding the weeds that my eyes had skipped right past the wildflowers adorning the hills – the very flowers my weed-pulling endeavored to protect!”  


Consider carefully what you’re looking for in life, because you will invariably see it.  

(copyright 2012 by Marty Kaarre)