Once home from a photography outing, I download the pictures and relive the moments. Before I take the picture, I look for light, perspective, depth of field, angles, and color; but, loaded into Photoshop I begin thinking of the layers. It's the marvel of the software. Adding layers allows me to see beneath the surface and discover the complexities and potential interest hidden in even an ordinary snapshot. Layers give the finished photo interest and life.
My friend Bernie produces promos and programs for replay on the radio. 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 give the finished promo staying power.
On any given day your life is a collection of layers. Nothing is as it seems on the surface; there are always layers underneath. Some are easy to see, but others are hidden deep and locked tight. The surface or background layer only defines the time and place; God made us to do more than take a name and mark some time. He made us to discover life in layers.
In each layer there is a constant battle raging. It is a war between life and death. Sometimes we feel the tension; sometimes we don't, but on every layer we are invited to make a choice. Choose wisely. God sent Jesus to give us life, abundant life on all layers. Layers give us life, transformed life
Faith is the only link between the multiple layers.
Just below the surface are the 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 fears, ambitions, resentments, abuses, misunderstandings, dreams, guilt, unreal-expectations, arrogance, and unrealized potential. Deeper still we find a desperate desire for the war to stop. But, in one layer or another, the war is always present.
Only faith has the power to peel back all the layers, to reveal the life-choice we face. The gift of life in multiple layers has already been given. Do you believe it?
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 us to choose life. We died, so God's Spirit could live in us, but not all our layers got the message.
There is a theological word for this; it's called sanctification. It's God's transformation on every layer...God's life from the inside out.
The Holy Spirit is God's invasion agent. Too many believers have been duped into thinking the Christian life is about being justified by faith and sanctified by ourselves ... they have told "transform yourself." Trust me, that kind of gospel isn't good news, it doesn't work, and it drives you crazy.
So what happens when God's Spirit grabs hold of a new layer? A miracle!
In October of last year Bob received a devastating call from his 35 year-old 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 her brother's roommate in college and the best man at his wedding. He was still close to the whole family. The shock was difficult to absorb and as this shameful layer was peeled away and made public, the poison infected everyone.
A divorce was filed and Bob's son was furious. He was PO'd with his friend and his sister. In the process, Bob's daughter was rejected by the friend and the family was a mess. You could see it in Bob's eyes; his family was dying a slow and painful death.
Bob felt powerless; he was used to fixing things, but this time, he could do nothing. So, he prayed 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 would he be allowed to use it?
Just a few days ago Bob's daughter requested a meeting with the family. "In tears," Bob said, "she shared her shame, she confessed her sin without excuse, and announced her plan for rebuilding our trust. My daughter stood before us broken and contrite and full of a new Spirit." Bob was in tears.
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.
Total transformation on multiple layers takes time. So, they still have choices to make, but now God's Spirit is providing the power.
So Bob continues to pray. He thanks God for the invasion and for the mark his Spirit has left in their hearts.
Pray for insight. Ask God to reveal the layers of your life that need transformation. Let him have the layer that is causing your pain. If you don't know where it is, that's OK, He does.
Get friends to join you in praying for a miracle, one that heals hearts and empowers life.
While layers of death are all around us, it's time to choose life.
It's a faith step. Where is your pain?
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