Saturday, January 7, 2012

Reverse Image

I find it interesting that when you look in a mirror you see the reverse of what other people see of you. I  decided that would be a great subject to write about some day and... today is that day! Of course with that visual in mind I thought about reflections, perceptions and even conclusions we have about ourselves based on what we see.  When I use the word see I am referring to something more complex than the function of the eye, I am meaning to understand or to interpret both what you see, have seen and have experienced. This forms that opinion of yourself. But often times what we see or think we see may not be as it really is, the reverse image in the mirror thing. I thought that it would be interesting to write about that dynamic, the challenge we have as human beings of faith when the reverse of what we expect happens. How do we react to events and experiences that we go through that are not at all what we expected?

Because the Bible and the stories in the Bible are something I have read since 1974, I thought that using examples from people in the Bible would be interesting to use in this context. Whatever your belief, the Bible is a powerful book that I have never grown tired of all these years. Through my ups and downs it has been an anchor, a light, a comfort, a standard and an inspiration. I love it.

I'd like to start with Joseph, the Joseph of the coat of many colors. He was the son of Jacob, later named Israel, and Rachel: he was a true love child. You can read about Joseph in Genesis 37-50. Joseph's life was complex and there is much to read in those chapters but I want to concentrate mainly on Joseph's dreams and Joseph's destiny - and how I feel he must have been bewildered during at least some of the journey between having dreams of greatness, and when he actually was great. How could Joseph have known, at 17 years of age, that the relating of his dreams to his family would start a process of enslavement and deception that would last for years. The opinion of himself that  I think Joseph had from his dream, and his position of favored son must have given Joseph a sense of security and confidence even though he was ridiculed by his many brothers. I can image a confident young man just waiting for the wife, the tent, the flocks and the beautiful children running around. It would have been inevitable, and expected. Yet his life took a sudden turn in a complete reverse of that very soon after having the dreams.

Another example of life taking a reverse turn is the one of John the Baptist. His conception was prophesied by an angel, his destiny to proclaim the Son of God was certain, his ministry was public and powerful - yet  he ended up in prison with what I believe was a crisis of faith. I believe this because John as a child in the womb leaped when Mary, the mother of Jesus visited her cousin Elizabeth, John's mother, while pregnant with Jesus (Luke 1:41). During John's ministry as he saw Jesus approach he proclaimed "Look, the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world" (John 1:29-36). John the Baptist KNEW WHO JESUS WAS  - but - while John was in prison he sent some of his disciples to Jesus to ask a question. I found this question strange for some years until I came to believe that John was in a personal crisis, a crisis because his circumstances in prison must have been the reverse of what he had imagined for his life.  The question was - "Are you the one who was to come, or should we expect someone else?" (Luke 7: 19) John knew who Jesus was at the river. I find the last sentence of the passage where Jesus responds to the question that John had his disciples ask - "Blessed is the man who does not fall away on account of me." (Luke 7:23) WOW! John was confronted with a reverse image of what he had previously thought about his life, yet the new image was the true one. He had been called to die. Would he fall away when he saw it?

I don't know how both of these men felt. I can only imagine what they might have felt given the details of the stories. One of them, Joseph, eventually rose to the power and prominence in this world that he had dreamt about. The other, John the Baptist, lost his head due to the wishes of a vengeful woman. Both were presented with life changes that were challenging to say the least and I believe that were contrary to how they may have viewed their lives initially. As I have aged I have found challenges also, comparing what is to what I had expected. Everyone reading this  that is of a certain age has gone through that process, in varying degrees. But I write this in hopes that I can understand and embrace the fact that perception changes with time and that I can approach those changes with grace and patience when I see that image of myself as it is. I will not "fall away" but will face that image with grace, faith and strength of purpose in what and Who is unseen.

There, I did it. :)  MB


  1. Wonder if that wasn't the lowest time in John's life, hence the question posed to Jesus through his disciples. When Jesus was hanging on the cross, taking on the sin of all mankind, His Father had to turn His back on Him and Jesus cried out, "My God, My God why have you forsaken me?" Jesus knew He had to die for us, but perhaps the reality of having to be separated from His loving Father (even for a brief time) was overwhelming. Joseph's end game is quite enviable, while John's, on the outward appearance, was degrading and horrific. Wouldn't wish that kind of ending on anyone. However it happens, surely God's grace will be plenty enough for the final chapter.

  2. I know what you mean Jerry. There is so much that could be said about this dynamic. I tried so hard to keep it short as after all, it's a blog and trying to respect the time of others. I did not even think about writing about Jesus because He was so perfect. But I did think about Peter and Paul as examples too.
    Thanks for your insightful comment, as always!