Monday, March 14, 2016

Hidden Realities .................. Parables 405

January 25, 1994

Our son was given one of those new pictures that look like some sort of decorative design but actually hide another picture. At first they appear as a series of artistic blobs arranged in lines and rows but if you focus a certain way on the one our son has, several dinosaurs appear in startling three-dimension. These amazing pieces of art are the ultimate in optical illusion.

Actually, you don’t look right at the picture. You have to let your eyes relax, without really focusing them on anything in the design or the obvious picture plane. Some suggest looking at a reflection in the glass but I find it works better if I don’t look at anything. It will even vanish if I am too quick to focus on the hidden picture when it starts appearing. After it fully takes shape I can move closer and see more details.

Some people cannot find the hidden picture at all. They must wonder at those who stand in awe in front of these “designs” raving at the animals, birds, and other forms. To them, it is only an orderly row of ink blots, and not even particularly attractive. Some of them must think, “There is no picture, these people just imagine it” or “I’ll believe it only if I can see it myself.”

I have no idea how the artists so cleverly conceal the hidden pictures or how our eyes can suddenly see what is not at all obvious. Even if you turn away from it, it disappears and the staring process has to take place all over again before the picture comes back. It does remind me of a verse in the Old Testament that says something about people being created with eternity in their hearts.

Whatever else that means, we do tend to do, say, and create things that demonstrate eternal realities. These picture, while probably not intending to do so, illustrate a prime truth that spiritual matters are not always visible to those who take only a casual glance. A quick look at circumstances seldom allow anyone to see God in them. One glance never reveals what is beyond visible dimensions of physical life.

It is not that God hides Himself from us. In fact, the Bible tells the entire history of how God revealed Himself, first in nature and the wonder of His creation, then in dreams and visions and in His mighty deeds, then in the Person of His Son, the Christ. God is a self-disclosing God.

The problem is with us. We don’t look for Him. We look at the surface of life and decide whether or not we enjoy the patterns, often trying to rearrange the order to suit us better. In doing so, we often miss what or Who is really there.

However, seeking after God requires something different than unfocused eyes. Jeremiah said to the exiled Jews: “For I know the plans I have for you, “ declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.”

God goes on to say He will bring them out of captivity and into the land He promised them. He wants blessing and prosperity for them; their part is simply seeking Him with their whole heart, trusting that His plans are not evil or harmful.

For us, sometimes life does not resemble even a series of orderly blobs. It is difficult to find God in the chaos. Yet He is there. He offers hope and an eternal future for anyone who will stop looking at the chaos and search for Him.

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