When I was growing up, one of the fads to pass through was the stereogram poster. These posters invite viewers to stare through the design to find the 3D image hidden within the graphics. It took my eyes a long time to find those elusive images, so I wasn’t a huge fan. For example, the feature image for this post has the words IN OUT hidden within the graphics. I don’t see it—do you?
Stereograms came to mind after reading a portion of Trevor Hudson’s Discovering Our Spiritual Identity. He says: “The way we live is profoundly shaped by our picture of God”—and he then challenged readers to stop and look at the picture of God we currently hold.
At first glance, my picture included God’s holiness, forgiveness, redemption, humility, grace, power, and more. Hudson encouraged readers to stare at the picture until the sub-layers showed through. Just like those stereogram posters, the more I stared at my picture of God, the more I could see hidden images embedded within that first layer. What I saw surprised me. Just past all that’s true and right about God is plenty that is off-kilter. My picture of God also included my fear of His rejection, disappointment, frustration, and more.
Those hidden images became quite obvious when I took time to look past the surface picture. The distortions were always there, lurking and ready to take over the whole picture whenever life got rough and stress kicked in. When the sub-layer lies about God take over the picture, I become more likely to run away from Him instead of running toward Him. This exercise proved that I desperately need the sub-layer cleared out so that I’m looking at and living by a true picture. Hudson goes on to explain:
“If we want to get our picture of God clearer, we must look in the direction of Jesus.”
Words from Colossians 1:13–22 came to mind, so I started there, asking myself questions like this:
God’s Word says I have redemption and forgiveness—when I berate myself for my faults, how does that line-up with truth?
God’s Word says that all things were created by Jesus, through Jesus, and for Jesus—do I see all that I am and all that I have as resources for God’s use?
God’s Word says that in Jesus all things hold together—when some part of my life is crumbling, do I trust that Jesus will keep me from being completely disjointed?
Questions like these are helping me to identify and deal with the distortions. I wish it were a quick process, but it’s looking like a lifelong one! But the clearer my picture of God, the more I’ll live by what’s true about God and therefore what’s true about me. So I’m going to fix my eyes on Jesus, and stare and stare at Him until He is all I see.
2. Hudson, Trevor. Discovering Our Spiritual Identity: Practices for God’s Beloved. Combined & rev. ed. Downers Grove, Ill.: IVP Books, 2010. Print.