Romans 5: 6
“You see at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly.”
Do you know what an autostereogram is? I didn’t know they had a name, but apparently an autostereogram is one of those pictures where you stare at them for a moment (or for a very long time, if you are me) and then almost miraculously, the image you thought you were staring at, becomes a completely different image. Usually it is a 3D image so it is a little bit shocking once you see it. Well I’m the worst at those. Seriously, the absolute worst. My mom had a painting in her home of a little wooden barn in the forefront, tucked away in a meadow with purple flowers all around it. The painting was a head on shot of the barn, looking at the front of the barn with the meadow behind it. Or so I thought. It turns out that the painting was in fact an autostereogram of sorts. One day my mom asked us what we saw in the painting. Naturally we both said the front of a barn in a meadow surrounded by purple flowers. She then proceeded to say, “Stare at it for a minute, and you will see that it is actually the back of a barn with the meadow in front of it.” I was in disbelief until my sister shouted “I SEE IT!” I stared for multiple minutes and nothing. My mother and sister could see both images any time they passed by it. “Hey there it is, oh ya and there’s the other one.” Like no big deal. As for me? Not so much. I would stare, stare as hard as I could. What even is staring as hard as you can? I’d cross my eyes, blur my vision and nothing. I had walked passed that painting for weeks. Until one day I saw it. Can I just tell you the day I saw it was like hitting the freaking lottery. I’m not exactly sure why but I felt like I had figured out an ancient code to something super relevant. I had tapped into my inner whatever and it was awesome. I could pretty much time travel at this point is what I’m saying.
I kind of feel like life without Christ can be like that painting. You buy that painting thinking it’s one thing, a picture of a front facing barn in a meadow that flows out behind it, and that’s all it is. The same can be said about our lives. You become an adult knowing that you need to make something out of yourself that you and others will be proud of. That’s it. Our whole lives we think we have to be strong. We have to get control. We have to make something of ourselves. We know our life is just a front facing barn.We do whatever we can to protect that barn, tend to the meadow, kill all the weeds and grow all the flowers. Just be strong. We put on the act, we pretend like we are confident. We get things done in our own “strength” because we have to, no one else is going to do it for us. Just stay strong. We are empowered and we convince ourselves that if we try hard enough, do good enough, are disciplined enough and strong enough we will someday arrive in the presence of the feeling of success or accomplishment, happiness and just maybe we can look back and say wow I was really really strong and I’m really really happy.
And then Christ comes in and quietly says that true happiness is in what He has done for us, not what we can do for ourselves. He asks if you see that the painting is actually the back of the barn, not the front. And the meadow flows out in front of it, not to the back. You stare for a moment, thinking this guy is insane. He has no idea what I have done to build this life and to accomplish what I have accomplished. But you stare. You stare as hard as you can. Weeks maybe months go by and you don’t see what He sees. Until one day, you see it. You see that the painting really is what He said it was. You were not seeing it clearly this whole time. And in that moment every single thing changes. Your perspective of your own life all of a sudden is rocked to the core. You see that even on your best day, your efforts don’t measure up to the sacrifice He made for you to have eternal relationship with Him. You see that it is not about how hard you work or how long you stare, but it is about the work He did so that we don’t have to measure up any more.
Having a perspective that His strength is made perfect in our weakness, is life changing. It is backwards thinking. It is freedom.
Today’s prayer challenge
Write out something you are trying to control. It could be controlling the outcome of a situation. Maybe it is trying to control the way someone will respond. Maybe you are trying to protect someone from experiencing pain. Or trying to control someone else’s behavior. Take a few minutes to really think about it, and then write out this prayer next to it:
God your word says that the right time is when I am powerless. This concept is so foreign to me God. God I strive to be in control. Please change my heart to see powerlessness as a strength. God remind me that you are in control and that you are trustworthy, above all else. In Christs name, Amen.