Have you seen those three-dimensional (3D) stereograms: the picture that transforms from blurry dots into an entire new 3D image? I remember staring at the magical creation, willing those dots to transform rather than make me dizzy, feeling frustrated, changing my position, and tilting my head hoping if I glanced correctly I could see the beautiful image. The harder I worked, the further I got from the clear picture the artist created.
In today’s readings, I wonder where the people of God find themselves. First, as God’s people in Colossae received Paul’s letter, I wonder what they “saw.” In a culture influenced by so many different ideologies and challenged by gnosticism, God’s people were tempted to stare at dots of intelligence, culture, politics, or ideology. If they find the right stance, the perfect tilt, or the right formula, maybe the world would make sense. However, the harder they worked, the further God’s people got from the clear picture God created.
Second, in the Old Testament reading, the prophet Isaiah is speaking to God’s people in exile. The people were so impatient to see God’s Kingdom, their vision was distorted by dots of self-sufficiency, independence, betrayal, and pain. The harder they worked, the further God’s people got from the clear picture of God’s kingdom.
Where are we? Where is God calling us through these texts? Are we stuck in a blurry, two-dimensional world yearning for a 3D experience with God, the Great Artist? Is our hard work taking us away from God’s plan? Are we like the tired parent staring at the picture, hoping it will transform our vision toward hope? Are we like the people in Colossae, trying so hard to fight the darkness that we forgot Jesus is the Light? Are we like our Old Testament family tired of waiting for God to show up our way? Are we looking around wondering, “what beauty could possibly come from this?”
The harder we look, the blurrier the world becomes until we focus not on the dots of our circumstances, but on the Savior who embodied our picture of salvation. Our readings remind us how to see past the dots to see the art Jesus is making in and through us:
● “I will lead blind Israel down a new path, guiding them along an unfamiliar way. I will brighten the darkness before them and smooth out the road ahead of them. Yes, I will indeed do these things; I will not forsake them.” (Isaiah 42:16 NLT)
● “For He has rescued us from the kingdom of darkness and transferred us into the kingdom of His dear Son who purchased our freedom and forgave our sins.” (Colossians 1:13 NLT)
How do we see clearly?
● “Praise the Lord! Let all that I am praise the Lord. I will praise the Lord as long as I live. I will sing praises to my God with my dying breath.” (Psalm 146:2 NLT)
Rev. Donna Carlile – Ordained Elder & Hospice Chaplain – Church of the Nazarene – Lake City, FL
Meet Today’s Author
Rev. Donna S. (Lawson) Carlile is an ecclesiastically-endorsed, hospice chaplain in Lake City, Florida. An ordained Nazarene elder since 2006, in addition to serving with Global Nazarene Missions International, Donna has pastored in lead and associate roles in Florida, Tennessee, Kansas, and Texas. Donna earned her B.A. in religion from Trevecca Nazarene University in 2003, and she graduated with honors and her M.Div. from Nazarene Theological Seminary in 2007. Donna’s greatest passion is fulfilling God’s calling to create opportunities for others to experience our holy God who is already at work.