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November 6, 2012

MAY: What have you seen?

> SOUTHERN INDIANA — There is an interesting exchange in the gospels that caught my eye recently.  John the Baptist has been thrown into prison for preaching about the Kingdom of God. He sends messengers to ask Jesus if he was the Messiah.  Jesus responded with another question, “What have you seen?”

Jesus' answer always reminds me of the Magic Eye books from several years ago. The books had pictures of random dots and colors. If you squinted just perfectly you could see a real image. When the kids were younger they loved those books. When we would wind up in a bookstore, they would find the display, grab one and scream, “What have you seen?” Nothing.

I followed the instructions. Hold the center of the printed image right up to your nose. It should be blurry. (Duh. I am with you so far.) Focus as though you are looking through the image into the distance. (This is the part I never seemed to master. The book is touching my nose. There is no distance.)

Very slowly move the image away from your face until the two squares above (I never saw the two squares!) in the image turn into three squares. (At this point, the blurred image, which always reminded me of colorful tapioca, turned back into a picture of random blobs of color.) If you see four squares, move the image farther away until you see three squares (see notes above). If you see one or two squares, start over! (Sighs!) If you see pink elephants, see a counselor.

I wonder if John was also frustrated by what he wasn't seeing. He basically asks, “Have I gotten the picture wrong? Are you the Messiah or should I wait for someone else?”

And Jesus says, “Tell John to hold life's picture close to his nose. What does he see?”

Do you ever have trouble seeing what God is doing in your life? Are your expectations of what life should be like out of focus? Is it difficult to see God's picture in all of the blurry, misshaped colors on life's page? At this time of year, is it difficult to be thankful?

Hold the picture of life close to your heart. Squint through the eyes of faith.

What have I seen?

I have seen a God who was faithful even when people that I loved and trusted were not. I have seen the power of answered prayer even when I wasn't sure exactly what I should be praying for. I have seen believers face the most difficult of circumstances with an unimaginable peace.

I have seen a gracious God work in the midst of his people, and sometimes in spite of them. I don't need to look any further, for I know in whom I have believed. I am persuaded that he is able to keep everything that I have until the day he ushers in eternity.

What about you? What have you seen?

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