As a child I remember going to a church where, at the beginning of the service, the pastor gathered all the children to himself at the front of the chapel. In view of the whole congregation, he gave a simple story. Later, after releasing the children to Sunday school, he would expound on this illustration in his message. I thought this a very clever technique as you gave both the children and adults a life lesson with a visual element, much like a parable. Well, today I want to give the children’s message about viewfinder reality.
Pretend I gave you one of those little plastic viewfinders where you look through a lens to see a small picture. I remember these from the 70’s at Disney and other tourist locations with images of the attractions: jumping alligators, a man surfing Shamu or the castle at Disney. Well, the image in your viewfinder would be a small, rather nondescript image. Maybe you have a doorknob with part of a door, a sidewalk with a child’s foot, or a car’s license plate with only part of a taillight. You would look in and possibly say, “What the heck is this!” You might even feel gypped because you wanted the castle or at least a jumping alligator. Well this, I propose, is much like life. We can see only a small portion of the whole picture. If we respond to a part as if it were the whole, we will be upended. Often I will allow my emotions to take me away, thinking what I see is the only reality. What I want to present is that God’s view is the only true reality no matter how real what I see is to me.
As we sat for hours in the room where Don’s body lay, waiting for the funeral home to come and retrieve him, the view through our viewfinder was rather small. Circumstance required our focus on this part of the picture. There were decisions that had to be made immediately. So often the moment can and does absorb our attention from the whole. That is natural, but in this moment a greater picture was in place.
I got up and stood next to Don’s bed in that hospital emergency room. I was seeing the moment but I was looking for God. I wanted to see God’s view not my own. I knew He was the reality in the circumstance. So though I had to respond and assist in my viewfinder reality, I was asking for a bigger picture.
I live bookended between my past and my future. The only space in which I can move is in my present. I have even been given 5 senses to respond to my now, and these 5 are useless in what was or will be. So it is obvious that my view has importance, but I must know that all my moments are held in the hands of God, for He is the whole. And just think, even if we receive a broader picture in the moment, it is still just a small part of the whole which is in Him.
The temptation is to put great value in what I see as my now-reality. Yet the call is to trust in a reality beyond my seeing. Don’s passing will always be a page in my book of life. Where Don’s book and mine intersected, we have a tale, but a mystery is present beyond my view. There’s a story authored in the mind of God that is His magnificent imagination, hidden inside our living reality.