Something’s missing

Just when I thought this neighborhood was perfect, I find this glitch.

It’s just an absent tile on a house number. But for this swank section of Washington, D.C., it’s an anomaly. And it has given me an eye for imperfection on my walk tonight.

But that’s hard to find anything amiss on streets of million-dollar mansions. Who am I kidding – multi-million-dollar. The yards are manicured. The walkways clear. Every property has a sign for the security system they utilize.

Apparently, even the rabbits are allowed in only by appointment.

With the money it takes to own and maintain a house in this section of the city, I do feel bad for those that don’t get indoor plumbing.

God has inserted a simple but nagging question in my brain: What’s missing? I think about my own life. I can readily identify gaps. And the insecurity of missing pieces is hard to live with. Humans like their ducks in a row – and build systems to keep them there.

Like this neighborhood.

And like businesses I professionally listen to. One of the great tensions in the corporate world is that they generally have cultures that avoid risk. But they need to embrace risk in order to innovate and stay in business.

And like churches. To ask, “What’s missing?” within a church is to call into question one’s loyalty. It can be seen as subversive. Discontented. Rabble-rousing. Not being a team player. After all, didn’t God help us to build a system that works?

And yet, time and again, I see Jesus pushing his disciples to open up to include new ideas, new people. I’m guessing that none of them went up to Jesus and said, “You know what we could use in our group? A tax collector!” And yet, Jesus sought out Matthew. And called him to follow.

It’s easy to see when something obvious has been taken away, when it’s missed by its absence. Like this tree. Sometimes, one has to be a bit more observant, like noticing these absent owners.

It’s much harder to see what should be here and isn’t. I’ve heard in many corporate meetings the seemingly obvious phrase, “You don’t know what you don’t know.” But it’s profoundly true. We are blind to our blind spots. And our systems keep telling us we see all.

I think one of the saddest verses in Scripture is Revelations 3:17, where Jesus says to the church in Laodicea, You say, ‘I am rich; I have acquired wealth and do not need a thing.’ But you do not realize that you are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked.”

God save us from our seemingly perfect systems!

Father, how often we take pride in how well we’ve put together our homes, our churches, our systems. We can be so unaware of those things that you deem missing in our lives. Wake us up! In particular, help us to see those people we need to make room for.

Have a resonse?  Drop me a line and tell me about it at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. And if you liked this article, please use the buttons above to share it with a friend.

Bruce Van Patter

As a freelance illustrator, graphic recorder, and author, Bruce is on a lifelong journey to delight in the handiwork of the Creator. And he’s always ready for fellow travelers.

Today's ReVision

Not Mere Good Feeling

If feeling good is what you're after, you'd better take another look at your faith.

Join the Ailbe Community

The Fellowship of Ailbe Newsletters