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  • Writer's pictureSylvia St. Cyr

Looking Beyond the Temporal Mess

Updated: Feb 15, 2023

Do you remember those books with Magic Eye images? I remember looking at them as a child and thinking about how fascinating they were.

Here are these pieces of paper with what look like only tiny patterned dots of colour. They are quite pretty on their own, but they carry a secret to them, right? Each of these contained a hidden image, if you could look at the picture properly.

How can you look at an image properly? Isn’t there only one way? Well, no. With these secret pictures, or Magic Eye images, you had to look past the picture. Back in the day, the trick to it was holding the paper right up to your face and then slowly move it away from your face while staring with great concentration beyond the colours.

Then, a new 3D picture would appear. Out of a mess of dots, a whole other scene, or phrase, would look like it was popping off the page.

(If you still don’t know what I’m talking about, click here.)

My oldest brother enjoyed these to the point where he had a special Magic Eye image made for his girlfriend. After she opened it and looked beyond the coloured dots, she found the words, “Will You Marry Me?”

To his delight, she said yes!

In Psalm 119:37, it says, “Keep my eyes from gazing upon worthless things, and give me true life according to Your plans.

These words ring true for our day and age even though they were penned thousands of years ago. It’s a beautiful prayer, as the writer asks God to “keep my eyes from gazing upon worthless things.” Keep my focus on things that matter.

What are these worthless things? They can be distractions. Our world is filled with them.

They can also be temporal things when life gets hard.

For people who love to plan their lives, for example, how many years they’ll be doing “such and such” before the next phase, a loss or change can feel like your world is crashing in around you. It can feel like you’re in the middle of a hurricane.

When a big change occurs, while mourning is absolutely part of the process, looking beyond the mess can be essential to making your way through. Seeing the bigger “hidden” picture.

Otherwise, hopeless thoughts can take over. Thoughts like:

  1. I’m already (blank) years old, I was supposed to be farther along by now

  2. What now? There is no backup plan.

  3. I cannot move past this, there’s nothing left

However, as a child of God, if there is breath in your lungs, there is hope! The last part of the verse above is “give me true life according to Your plans.” God has plans for each of us, no matter how dismal it might seem.

The first time you looked at the Magic eye image, all you saw were dots. It took practise and time to look beyond the dots to the 3D image, right? It’s the same when you go through a hard experience.

The things of this earth will all pass away, but our value, our worth, and our place in heaven can never be taken away.

Your identity (what makes you, you) will not be shaken. Why? Because who you are is an eternal, image-bearer of God, not something that passes away.

In those times when all you can see is the mess, ask God to help you look beyond, to what really matters. To see past the temporal to the eternal.

I’ve found two ways to practise looking beyond the mess:

  1. Start your day off with five things that you are grateful for. When you put your focus on being grateful for what you have, instead of angry at what you don’t have, it’s proven that you automatically find more things throughout the day to be grateful for. Opportunities arise and you become aware of them, which is the beautiful part.

  2. Listen to uplifting and encouraging songs. That is what I do. A song that has resonated with me recently is “Reason” by Unspoken. You can listen to it here!

The point is that God, the Creator of all things, sees the bigger picture. This hard time in your life shall pass. It’s a season of life and just as the seasons change, this time of trouble will fade away like the snow in the spring.

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