I just finished downloading pictures from our last sailing adventure. There is always a story or a metaphor of a story in each one I keep. Sure, I look for light, perspective, depth of field, angles, and color, but once loaded into Photoshop, I begin thinking of the layers—layers of meaning and memory in the image. Photoshop lets me see beneath the surface, inside the background. There are secret layers in every ordinary snapshot.
My friend Bernie produces promos and programs for radio broadcast. He has an ear for silence and sound. In his studio, any given radio spot has a collection of sound layers: the voice, the music-bed, ambient sound, sound effects, other voices, and produced pieces. Each layer of sound is added till Bernie's ears are happy. Layers make the finished product sticky... the message lingers.
On any given day, your life is a collection of layers. Some are easy to see, but others are hidden deep and locked tight. The background layer only defines the time and place God made us to do more than take a name and make a place; He made us to discover life in all the layers.
Faith is the only link between the layers.
We have social layers of family and friends, education and workplace, status and politics. Then, there are layers of unpacked baggage and broken promises, accompanied by broken bodies and broken hearts. Down deeper there are layers of fear, ambitions, resentments, abuses, hopes, dreams, guilt, arrogance, and unrealized potential. Deeper still we find a desperate desire to understand, to know "why."
Paul was pretty clear when he stated we are in process: being transformed, growing, changing from what we have been to what God intends. It takes time for God's Spirit to invade our layers and empower our choices. We died, so God's Spirit could live in us, but not all our layers got the message.
And we, who with unveiled faces all [behold and] reflect the Lord's glory, are being transformed into his likeness with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit (2 Corinthians 3:18 NIV).
There is a theological word for the invasion of the layers; it's called sanctification. It's the life story of transformation.
Too many believers have been duped into thinking the Christian life is about being justified by faith and sanctified by transforming themselves. Trust me, that kind of gospel isn't good news, it doesn't work, and it drives you crazy.
It's time to let God do what He does best... transform us layer by layer into what He wants us to be.
A couple years back, Bob received a devastating call from his single daughter. She wanted to talk and asked if she could pick him up at the airport.
Before they got out of the airport, she poured out her shame and pain. "I've gotten involved with a married man," she confessed. "And that's not the worst of it — you know him."
This affair had been going on for three years. The man involved was Bob's son's roommate in college and the best man at his wedding, and he was still close to the family. The shock was difficult to absorb and when the affair become public, the shame was about to infect and affect everyone.
A divorce was filed and Bob's son was furious. He was PO'd with his friend and his sister. Bob's daughter was rejected by her brother and the family was a mess. You could see it in Bob's eyes: his family was dying, painfully dying.
Bob was used to fixing things, but this time, he could do nothing but pray for God to work a miracle, to bring life out of death. He met with each one praying for God to bring forgiveness and grace and reconciliation. "NO WAY!" was the response.
God had the power, but God was locked out.
The more Bob prayed, the worse it seemed to be.
Then, after months of hopelessness, Bob's daughter requested a meeting with the family. In tears she shared her shame, she confessed her sin without excuse, and announced her plan for rebuilding their trust. "She stood before us," Bod said, "broken and contrite and full of a new Spirit."
The Holy Spirit invaded that meeting. Many honest and straightforward comments were made by everyone, and in the end the young woman who thought her brother would hate her forever, stood in the middle of the room, buried in his forgiving arms. God connected and invaded all the layers.
Total transformation on multiple layers takes time. So they all still have choices to make, but now God's Spirit has something to work with.
Make this God's year of invasion... the year He is given access to all layers. Pray for brokenness, for confession, for transformation. It begins with an acknowledgment of layers locked and hidden.
While layers of uncertainty and discouragement are all around us, the best of God is living within us. He will transform the past, connect the layers, and empower us beyond 2013 and into eternity, if we will let him.
A new chapter is beginning... do you see it?