On a recent trip my wife and I stopped along a small road to look at a Gullah cabin. The Gullah people group is composed of descendants of African slaves who live in the Lowcountry of South Carolina and Georgia. They have their own dialect and have retained many traditions from their rich heritage.
The Gullah cabin was small. I have seen children’s playhouses that were almost as large. It had a tin roof, a small front porch, and wooden shutters. I snapped a few pictures as we circled the cabin.
Something I would soon regret.
An older woman with a big glass jar marched across an open field leading to the cabin. “Hey, that’s $50.00 for that picture!” As she came closer I could see the word “Donations” printed on the jar.
I thought she might be serious. So I told her there was an alligator behind her and when she turned to look my wife and I made a run for the car!
Just kidding! But I thought about it.
It turns out the woman was a part of the Gullah community. The cabin once belonged to her uncle. He never married, so his cabin remained small, but she said others with wives and children would continue to add rooms to their homes to accommodate their growing families.
We told her we were just passing by and she encouraged us to set up a time for a tour. The tour cost $20.00 a piece, and to tell the truth I couldn’t imagine it taking more than five seconds to walk through the house.
Therefore, we declined.
And she held out her glass jar.
Because, evidently, if you are ever in the Lowcountry, just looking at a Gullah house is going to cost you something.
Later it occurred to me our quick trip around the cabin really was worth something. Even if we didn’t go in, read a history plaque on a wall, or pick up an artifact. At the time, I was surprised by the donation jar because I have been conditioned to believe “just looking” at something isn’t worth nearly as much as getting to use it. In fact, it might not be worth anything at all.
Which brings me to the subject of pretty much everything God has made. I wake up and walk outside to a glorious day and often fail to praise the omnipotent Creator who made it. A mountain stream and a rolling ocean are all expressions of His power. But if I don’t use them, I don’t feel obligated to thank Him.
On the other hand, if the sun comes out when I’ve planned an outdoor activity, then I offer thanks. The same goes for the food I eat, and the circumstances God’s hand moves around in my life to help me along my way.
Yet, praise Him for just looking?
Hey, if I’m not using it, why does it matter?
It matters because seeing is how I know, by mere observation, there is a God. As Paul wrote in Romans, “For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities – his eternal power and divine nature – have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse.” (Romans 1:20)
Seeing is how I am assured of the faithfulness of God. “As long as the earth endures, seedtime and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, day and night will never cease.” (Genesis 8:22)
And seeing is what I do with my heart when I approach God humbly. “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.” (Matthew 5:8)
Perhaps our culture’s conditioning isn’t such a good thing. Maybe there is more value in seeing than we think.
Why do we always have to be doing something?
Maybe “just looking” can even be…priceless!
Incidentally, how much do you think this post is worth?
You’re just looking, you say?
Um. Sure. I understand. Just a moment. I need to go grab my bucket.