Do you remember the “Magic Eye” pictures, or stereograms, of the mid-1990’s? Out of the blue, American culture was pasted with pictures of multi-colored waves and squiggles that were supposed to reveal a certain image if you looked at it correctly. These mysterious pictures were everywhere, from wall calendars to greeting cards, and it was impossible to look away, even if you weren’t getting it. I remember the overwhelming frustration of standing next to someone, and we’re both frowning, staring, cocking our heads like puppies, when they shout “I see it!” That made me so mad! Where was it? What did they see? And, inevitably, when you asked them how they saw it, they would say, “Uh… I don’t know.” Well, great help you are.
I will always remember, though, the day that I got it. I was pastoring a small church in Flower Mound, a suburb in the North Dallas area, when my parents had come for a visit. I was in the middle of being intrigued by these stereograms, so I went to the bookstore and bought a calendar full of them. My Dad and I sat and stared, crossed our eyes, drooled a little, and all of a sudden, we began to see a 3D picture emerge from that mass of swirling shapes and colors. Then, once we saw it, we could see it every time. What’s more, we could look at the next one, and see it right away! It was amazing! I had never felt such a wave of accomplishment and intelligence in my life.
It quickly dawned on us, though, that my wife and my mother hadn’t gotten the hang of it yet. That was going to be a problem. Dad and I decided to go to a hockey game. That was the strategy that had the best chance of preserving both our marriages. Fortunately, before we left for the game, my mother saw it. Dad relaxed. My blood pressure rose. My wife is a wonderful, wonderful woman, but I knew that if she remained the only one not able to see the special picture, none of us would sleep.
I hardly enjoyed the hockey game. I kept hoping that the puck would be slap-shot in my direction, knock me out, and I would wake from a coma days later to find that my wife had seen the pictures. I was still nervous when we slipped in the front door and heard laughter and easy conversation coming from the living room. She had seen it! The abundant life would continue in our home unabated!
I had that same feeling when I began to see the reality, immediacy and presence of the Kingdom of God and what it could mean for my life. The first three letters of “seek” spell the word “see,” and when you begin to see the Kingdom of God and its relevance and importance for every day, something that was hidden begins to emerge. This truth of the Kingdom has been there ever since Jesus first announced it, but it has become hidden to us, in the background, lost amid the confusion of what we think we see. But what would a stereogram be if no one told you that there was more? What if all you saw was a mass of swirls, waves, and colors, but you didn’t know that there was something of substance hidden in it, something that wasn’t just a part of it, but actually defined its existence? If you didn’t know there was a bigger picture in the very fabric of the image, placed there by design, by the hand of its creator, you might try to understand and interpret the image based on your own knowledge and experience with art. But you would be missing it. You might even be able to appreciate the colorful artistry and even teach people what you think it means, but you would be wrong. The purpose of the stereogram is not to impress you with color or design, it is to show you something deeper, something that was there the whole time, you just had to be told to look for it. That’s why Jesus said, “The Kingdom of God is here.” That’s why he said to look for it.
If we approach life, the Bible, even Christianity with a shallow appreciation, not knowing that there is more to what we are seeing, we can miss the one thing that was placed there by design, the one thing we were actually meant to see- the rule and reign of God every day, in every area of life.
(Excerpted from A New Normal: Experiencing the Unstoppable Move of God, coming December 1st from Destiny Image Publishing)