Have you ever looked at any of the artwork of M.C. Escher? He has some amazing optical illusions. Some of his impossible constructions truly mess with your mind. The reason optical illusions are so intriguing is that they contradict what you expect to see.
Most of the time we see what we expect to see. We see what we want to see. How many times have you passed by something and totally missed it? Or perhaps you’ve seen something a million times and then you walk by the spot where it should be and don’t even see that it’s gone. It takes a minute for your brain to register that something is missing because you have been trained to see it.
Spiritually we do the same thing. We’ve heard the phrase “don’t put God in a box,” so many times we have become accustomed to what we think it means. Of course, it means that God works and acts in ways that don’t fit our limited mental capacity to understand. We tend to limit His ablilities because we can’t “think outside the box.”
But where did the box come from? And is it God who’s in the box or us? I think we have turned it around. I think it is we who are in the box and not God. I think we know what God is capable of, even though it is more than we can imagine.
The real issue is that we have put ourselves in the box. A box with high sides all the way around us. We are trapped by our own illusions. The fact is, the box sides have been blown down like the walls of Jericho but we are still imagining that they are there. They still limit our ability to move and act in the ways God designed us too.
We see what we expect to see. What we want to see. We see the walls there, holding us back, limiting our effectiveness. Time to look past this mental illusion and move beyond the walls that Jesus removed when he rose from the grave. Time to ask God to give us eyes to see what we have been blinded to for too long.
I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened, so that you will know what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints – Ephesians 1:18 (NASB)
Open my eyes, that I may behold wondrous things out of your law. – Psalm 119:18 (ESV)
Have you ever watched a caterpillar turn into a butterfly? You’ve seen the before and after but you can’t actually see change take place. It’s a mystery how God takes a slimy, fat, little worm and transforms it into a beautiful, delicate butterfly. To be transformed means to be made into something completely different.
It’s also a mystery how He can take a lost soul and transform it into something that begins to resemble His son. He makes us more Christ-like the longer we follow Him. It’s a process, not an instant occurrence. While God says we are changed as soon as we accept Christ as Savior, the outward appearance takes a little while. It’s kind of like the butterfly. When he’s crawling around on the ground you can’t tell that the makings of a butterfly are already inside him. All you see is the caterpillar. No wings. No long legs. No beautiful colors. It takes time before the butterfly emerges. The change takes place inside the chrysalis where no eye can see what’s happening.
It’s the same for us. God hears our cry for salvation. He declares that we are His and then He begins the process of change. This is also what happens when we hear a word from God about the direction of our lives. We hear what he wants for us and then don’t understand why it isn’t happening. But we can’t see inside the chrysalis. We can’t always see all the work God is doing. We just have to trust Him to do it His way.
Also, there is a strong temptation to just stay a caterpillar. We blend in with the rest of them and feel safe. We conform to those around us because to do otherwise would be risky. But God doesn’t want us to be like all the others. He has said we are to be set apart. I would think a butterfly in the middle of a crowd of caterpillars is definitely set apart. Definitely conspicuous.
Choose today to let your colors show. Unlike the caterpillar, we can choose to be transformed. We have a part to play in the final outcome. We can make the decision to allow God to renew our minds so that we may be transformed. Let God work in your life and transform you into a beautiful butterfly that can show off God’s handiwork and bring Him the glory.
“ And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.” – Romans 12:2 (NASB)
Several years ago I was attending a women’s retreat at a camp with a group of ladies from my church. I had been struggling with some very difficult challenges in that particular season of life. I had been asking God to help me settle a few things in my heart.
One thing I asked Him was if what was happening in my life was a result of my own actions and choices or just part of life. I had read the story about the blind man that Jesus healed and how the people had asked whose sin had caused the man’s blindness, his own or his parents. Jesus had responded by saying that neither of those reasons was the cause but the man had been born blind so that God’s glory would be revealed. God has His own reasons for allowing things to happen in our lives.
When we consider all of God’s attributes we should know that He will never fail us and will take care of us. But sometimes the challenges of life seem to overpower what we know to be true.
On that first day of the retreat, when we were registering and receiving our study materials for the sessions, one of the items we were told to take was a small journal. All of the journals were displayed on a table and each cover had a picture. We were told to prayerfully consider which cover spoke to us. As I stood there looking at all the covers, one suddenly drew me like none of the others. As I looked at the picture of a partially eaten apple, I heard the Lord speak gently to my heart. “Taste and see that the Lord is good.” It was exactly what I needed. To know that God was good. To know that no matter what, that was a sure thing. God was challenging me to take Him at His word. I chose to do so.
Today, I still have that journal and Psalm 34, which contains the verse God spoke to my heart, has become my favorite Psalm. If you are struggling with something in your life and just need a little encouragement, ask God to give you what you need. He never disappoints.
” Taste and see that the Lord is good; blessed is the one who takes refuge in him.” – Psalm 34:8 (NIV)
The children gather on the playground for a rousing game of kickball. Team captains are selected and the group of players stands in anticipation of being picked for a team. As the selection progresses and the players move to stand by their captain the anxiety rises with each pick. Who will be the last? Will the captains fight over who has to “take” the last man standing? Perhaps it’s the heavy boy or the girl who’s a little klutzy. Will that child be shamed and embarrassed by being the unwanted player?
Maybe you were that child. Maybe you were never actually the last one picked in such a public way. Maybe you just feel like you never measure up. Like you have nothing to contribute. Maybe you think you have been passed over because you never really figured out how to have what it takes.
Be encouraged today, my friend. You have indeed been chosen. You are wanted and have a place and a purpose. Be brave enough to step forward and stand by your Captain. He will lead you to victory.
“You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should abide, so that whatever you ask the Father in my name, he may give it to you.” – John 15:16 (ESV)
“Even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love he predestined us for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, ” – Ephesians 1:4-5 (ESV)
Changes are part of life. We can’t ignore them. Why is it that whether the changes are good or not so good the transition is often difficult?
Sometimes the changes are gradual like the simple process of aging. It may bring difficulties but the actual process isn’t a struggle. It often just happens while we aren’t looking.
I think the changes that are the most difficult are the abrupt ones. Sending a child off to college, retiring at the end of a fulfilling career, watching a grandbaby move away. Those kinds of changes are ones you think you are preparing yourself for but when “the day” finally arrives it still might feel like the ground beneath you is unstable. And then there are the tragic changes that occur with the death of a loved one, the termination slip from your job or an accident or illness that leaves permanent physical changes. Those changes feel more like major earthquakes than tremors.
When things happen in our lives that are not what we had hoped for or planned we have a choice to make. We can stay in the past and spend all our time mourning what we’ve lost or we can move forward into the new season that the change has created. We can’t always arrange our circumstances but we can embrace the opportunities that change brings. We can allow God to do a new work in our lives because of the changes that come our way.
Maybe it’s time to let go and move on with the Lord. He promises that you won’t be disappointed!
“Do not call to mind the former things, or ponder things of the past. Behold, I will do something new, now it will spring forth; will you not be aware of it? I will even make a roadway in the wilderness, rivers in the desert.” – Isaiah 43:18-19