In the Spirit: Seeing clearly with 20/20 vision

Courtesy photoThe “Outdoor Sculpture” exhibit continues through this weekend at Maudslay State Park, prompting the Rev. Peter Balentine of Hope Community Church in Newburyport to create his own sculpture.

These are challenging times, aren’t they? Whether it’s discerning the world news, deciding a next step in your work, school or family, understanding a doctor’s report or knowing your purpose in life, we all want a clear view of reality and what is true.

We all wish we had clear vision, don’t we?

This year, the “Outdoor Sculpture” exhibit at Maudslay State Park has as its theme: 20/20. With 48 sculptures on display, it is a time of looking back and looking forward with the theme of vision.

I have always enjoyed the exhibit and this year, I finally got some inspiration and put together a sculpture myself. I call it a metaphor window for seeing.

Being an English major, I love metaphors. They take an abstract concept and help ground it in the real world. Jesus used lots of metaphors.

In fact, the Bible is filled with imagery to help us better understand spiritual truth. For my sculpture, I found an old window with 16 panes and painted each to depict a way of seeing. Let me explain:

Some panes are black. These represent the limits of human knowledge. There are a lot of things we don’t understand! Science admits this. We are not God. Our minds can be darkened to truth. Sometimes, God keeps us from seeing things so we are not overwhelmed.

Some panes are rose-colored. We need rose-colored glasses at times. Why? To see the good that can come out of things (Romans 8:28). To avoid constant criticizing. To think the best of someone. But rose-colored viewing without acknowledgement of injustice or sin is just that — rose-colored.

Some panes are black and white. At times, we can often fall into this category, where we judge everything and everyone. This type of seeing can greatly impact our ability to have discourse on a topic. But sometimes, say for instance when it comes to condemning prejudice or abuse, or using heroin, it is good to have black-and-white thinking, isn’t it?

Some panes are mirrors. These reflect who? Us! Don’t we sometimes only see ourselves – our ego or pride is what drives us. This is limiting.

Some panes are brown drips. I took brown paint and let it drip down the window pane. For those who have gone through trauma or tragedy, sometimes this is all we can see for a while. We see the hurt, the suffering, the crud in our world.

One pane is filled with stars. This represents optimistic thinking. As Christians, we can truly be optimists because Jesus conquered the grave and good will triumph over evil in the end!

Some panes are gray. The Apostle Paul says, “For now we see through a glass, darkly … .” (1 Corinthians 13:12). This side of heaven, Paul says, we can only see imperfectly. Only in heaven will we know God fully and completely.

There is one pane, however, that is clear. It is on the bottom. If you get down on your knees, you can see right through it. I call it the humility pane. It reminds me of the humility door at the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem.

There is only one door to this huge church, but you have to bend down low to enter through it. Proverbs 11:2 says, “… with humility comes wisdom.” Jesus told us that God reveals truth to the lowly, not the proud. As we humble ourselves, we can see real truth.

What situation in your life would you like to see clearly? What are your current ways of seeing? How do you want to grow in your ability to see?

Ask God to help you to realize what is blocking your view these days. And ask him to show you the truth of who he is and his will for your life. Humble yourself in the sight of the Lord, and he will help you see.

Come and check out the great exhibits at the 2019 “Outdoor Sculpture” show at Maudslay and gain that 20/20 vision! It ends tomorrow (Sept. 29) at noon!

The Rev. Peter Balentine is pastor of Hope Community Church in Newburyport.

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