Jessie Lee’s two plywood-and-wool ornamental sheep were stolen from outside her cottage in Holt, Norfolk. She was dumbfounded when three-and-a-half years later they were returned to her. With them was an envelope marked Larry & Sean’s Holiday Photos. The 16 pictures showed the intrepid sheep travelling all over India, visiting sights such as the Taj Mahal and baahsking with their cocktails in the evening sun on a beach in Goa. The only clue as to the identity of the sheepnappers was a picture of Larry and Sean attached to the backpacks of a couple of young travellers.
‘They are slightly worn and torn after their trip but I am delighted they are back,’ said Mrs Lee. ‘I’d love to meet the mystery backpackers so I can hear about their adventures’. Sadly there’s no other way she’ll discover what they got up to; the sheep themselves are tight-lipped about it.
Many of the people we know will also have experiences they don’t talk about. Some of them will be painful, others fascinating, many life-changing. Sometimes people we think we know well could tell stories that would surprise us. Often knowing something of people’s hidden past would explain aspects of their behaviour and personality.
God knows each of us intimately. That knowledge is never used against us; it enables God to love and care for us effectively and uniquely. We perhaps need, especially with people who may seem, on the surface, uninteresting or strange in their behaviour, to recognise that we don’t know all there is to know about them. Most of us don’t have those intuitive powers but we should treat everybody with a respect that comes from assuming that there is more in their history than meets the eye.
Read: When Jesus saw Nathanael approaching, he said of him, “Here is a true Israelite, in whom there is nothing false.”
“Where did you get to know me?” Nathanael asked. Jesus answered, “I saw you while you were still under the fig tree before Philip called you.” (John 1.47-48)
Rejoice: in the variety and uniqueness of each person’s experience
Reflect: Which bits of my life-story am I reluctant to share? Why?
Remember: People are sometimes more understanding and accepting than I expect.
Resolve: to seek an appropriate way of learning more about someone’s past.