The Longer You Look, the More You See

We have some picture books by Joan Steiner. She makes elaborate photos of scenes using everyday items. It might be a train or an outdoor scene; it might be a kitchen or a living room. She uses items like erasers, paperclips, tennis rackets, socks, batteries, you name it. Using her imagination and all these simple, easily recognizable items, she creates an amazing picture. The longer you look at each picture the more items you are able to identify.

When I look at these books with my grandchildren it’s so much fun to watch their faces light up when they spot something else they recognize. With excitement they say, “Hey! That’s a pencil sharpener!” or “Look, do you see that tree is really broccoli?” It’s such fun to see them suddenly find the treasure that was hidden in the picture.

I have a pair of curtains in my house that are of a brightly colored tide pool theme. If I look at them long enough I can see the face of an old man among the rocks. I can also see what looks like two puppies in the sand. If you look at the coral you can see the suggestion of a kid with a wild, blue afro and huge sunglasses. Now you may think I’m a little goofy, finding people and pets in a tide pool curtain but you know you’ve done the same sort of thing! How many times have you looked at a cloud and said, “Hey, that looks like a duck, or an elephant, or a car?”

I think it’s a trait God created in us for a purpose; looking for things that might not be readily apparent to the casual glance. It’s why we liked the hidden picture puzzles in the old Highlights magazines when we were children. It’s why Where’s Waldo was so popular. It’s why I can look at a pair of curtains in my house and see things that aren’t really in the picture.

It’s how God wants us to look at the world around us. He wants us to see beyond the obvious picture and find the things He’s hidden for us. He also wants us to do that with His Word. He wants us to linger for a while and look at the things He made and the things He said and find the hidden treasures that He so carefully designed into our world and His Word.

Take some time today to look more closely at the world around you. And take time to look more deeply into God’s Word and see what amazing surprises He has for you. I know you will be blessed!

 I will give you hidden treasures, riches stored in secret places, so that you may know that I am the LORD, the God of Israel, who summons you by name. – Isaiah 45:3 (NIV)

 Call to Me and I will answer you, and I will tell you great and mighty things, which you do not know.  – Jeremiah 33:3(NASB)

Sometimes You Have to Take a Risk

Most of us like to play it safe. We like to have all the facts and make well informed decisions. We like to know what’s at stake up front with no surprises. But the longer you walk with the Lord, the more you come to realized that God doesn’t usually work that way.

God often requires us to make decisions and take action in ways that look pretty risky. Things don’t always look safe and risk free. Why does He do this? What is gained by us having to take risks?

He who watches the wind will not sow and he who looks at the clouds will not reap. Just as you do not know the path of the wind and how bones are formed in the womb of the pregnant woman, so you do not know the activity of God who makes all things. Sow your seed in the morning and do not be idle in the evening, for you do not know whether morning or evening sowing will succeed, or whether both of them alike will be good.”  – Ecclesiastes 11:4-6 (NASB)

Sometimes God asks us to take a chance, to do something without knowing ahead of time what the outcome is going to be. Consider the risks that missionaries choose to take in order to proclaim the Gospel. What gives them the courage to willing face such uncertain and dangerous situations?

The word risk implies uncertainty and even fear. God doesn’t ever take risks because He already knows the outcome of every situation. He doesn’t have to fear what lies ahead. He offers us that same assurance if we will only allow Him to guide us. He asks us to put our trust in Him and have faith in His plan. To us, with our limited perspective, it looks like we may be asked to take huge risks but if God already knows the outcome and He is in control what do we have to fear?

What are you willing to risk? What steps can you take today to move out of your comfort zone and trust God to do something extravagant in you and through you? Just ask Him for courage and take that first step. You will be amazed at what He will do.