Sunday PM works within themes. The team does a pretty amazing job of changing the elements of decor to reflect the current theme. At times I really like it, and others...not so much. But I like the fact that sometimes I don't like it. I'd try to explain that, but I guess all I can say is that it is nice to be in a place that doesn't try to cater to such a specific individual that they forget the rest of the community that they are trying to minister to.
Facebook lets me know what the next theme will be. I didn't pay much attention this time around, and quite honestly it was because the theme name was a bit forgettable. But hey, we can't have lifechanging, world altering catchy phrases hanging on to all our church services. After dropping off the kids and adjusting to the earbusting music level, I glanced up at the screens that displayed our current theme.
CAN YOU SEE HIM?
And for whatever reason, my first thought was of Magic Eye.
Did you ever look at one of those 3Dish, pop-outish, cross your eyes and tilt your head pictures?
I remember standing in a mall one time, looking in the window of a bookstore. Magic Eye books had recently started making thier rounds within the schoolyard set, and I was drawn to an oversized poster that showed off the 'amazing, mind bending fun!' that was to be had within the covers of such a book.
I stood there for a long time. I knew that the swirl of colors, little circles and tilted triangles were supposed to swim before my eyes. I knew that something was supposed to shift in my vision. I knew that when I saw it, I would open my mouth in astonishment. But I only knew these things because other people told me what it was like to see the mysteries hidden within Magic Eye pictures.
I couldn't see the Magic Eye's magic.
I stood there while others sauntered up, took a few seconds or minutes to gaze intently at the spatterings of red and orange and then excitedly say that they saw a school of fish. They would walk off, the red and orange phantom fish forgotten. And I still stood there, trying to see it.
So this is the image that popped into my head when I saw the words CAN YOU SEE HIM?
I think it is very telling about how my spiritual life works.
I know where Jesus is supposed to be, and what he is supposed to look like. I know this because I have stood next to friends, parents, strangers, and old ladies with noxious perfume while they excitedly experience something that I don't see or feel.
I don't want to confuse you. I believe in God, and a specific one at that. I believe that Jesus lived and does live. And yes, I even know how crazy that sounds.
But I've never been able to SEE HIM in the ways that others do.
Are you wondering how long I stood looking at that window display? It was a very, very long time. My eyes watered a bit and then did a bit of an aerobic dance. They didn't cross, but they certainly weren't fixed in the normal fashion. And the orange and red mash of color opened a small door that popped backwards....and I saw it.
But actually, I didn't. I saw a shape that previously hadn't been there. But I wouldn't have been able to describe it as a fish if my very next breath depended on that correct identification. I just knew that it was there. I had to believe the other people before me that said it was supposed to be fish.
And this is often how I feel about Jesus. I stare and stare and stare and try and try and try and pray and pray and pray. And then, for just a smattering of seconds, I see something shift...and I'm kind of cross eyed and confused about what I'm seeing. But I know that something is indeed there. I'm only able to correctly say that it was Jesus because I lean heavily on those who have better success with 3D spirituality.
I often was jealous of those who had Magic Eyes. I wanted to be able to see the shapes. I wanted to look at those red and orange contours and know what the object was and what it was doing. I even suspected others of lying about what they could see. And sometimes, I'm sorry to say that I pretended I could see fish when I really only saw circles.
I'm not yet old and full of wisdom. If I was, I could end this blog with something soothing about how important it is for all of us to see different things. I would say that there is a redeeming quality in not seeing Jesus, or 3D fish, in a poster of painted madness.
But tonight, as I think about the question....CAN YOU SEE HIM?
All I can come up with is this answer: No, I usually cannot. But I want to. And I'll stand and stare for as long as it takes. If I can't ever see him the way that I would like, I hope that the staring is enough. One day I'll have better eyes. One might even say they'll be magic.