Written by Tracey Grutz
I bought myself a new mirror. It is one of these classy “vanity mirrors” which sits erect on its own oiled bronze pedestal on my desk. It even has dim-able lighting. I chose this particular model because on one side, it has a plain, flat surface thus, I can see my whole face. On the other side, however, is the REAL reason I needed it: it is magnified. Not just a little magnified- this little gem sports a 10x magnification! (I have found it increasingly difficult to see the details of my eyes as I try to apply my cosmetics… ah, the joys of aging eyes.)
I nestled myself down at my new little vanity station to apply my eye make-up. I peered into the “normal” surface first, then rotated to the magnified side. How disorienting! My face was terribly contorted and upside down. Nothing was clear at all. I moved in a little closer. That helped. I positioned my face so that I could focus on a singular part of it at a time, otherwise, the distortion remained. With my visage now inches from its own reflection, I was appalled at the imperfections I espied. How unbecoming are all these parts when this exaggerated!
God spoke to me in that moment. We are told to MAGNIFY the Lord. In this sense, we extol, or praise Him. This is different than MAGNIFYING my imperfections in a mirror. THAT type of “magnify” is to make something bigger, or grander than it actually is. See, we ought not to magnify ourselves in EITHER sense of the word. Will you allow me to invite you into a moment of equivocation? When we magnify HIM, we elevate Him to his proper place. We exalt. We praise. We adore. When we magnify ourselves, however, the same word changes meaning, and we make ourselves grander than we are- we focus on all that we are (or are not) and thus we are considering ourselves beyond what we ought. (see Romans 12:3)
The lessons of the mirror have continued to unfold… The extraordinary degree of magnification on my special little mirror is the result of intense distortion of the looking glass: it is deeply concave. Unless I am mere inches from its surface, I cannot see anything clearly. And when I am that close, all I can see is that one part. I lose the greater context. I lose perspective. I cannot see how my eye looks relative to the whole of my face until I move backward and turn the mirror over to the uncontracted side. It is just as Paul said in 1 Corinthians 13:12:
For now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then we will see face to face. Now I know only in part; then I will know fully, even as I have been fully known.
It is as we step back from gazing at a hyperbolic version of a part and allow ourselves to be fully seen that we begin to know and be known with clarity and truth.
So… what does this have to do with Lent- the road to the cross and beyond? Consider the Road to Emmaus (Luke 24:13-35)… Friends of Jesus dejectedly walk along trying to make sense out of a very disappointing set of circumstances. When the unrecognized Christ joins them, they relay all the PARTS of the story… their crushed expectations scattered at His feet:
“[Jesus… was] crucified BUT we were hoping that it was He who was going to redeem Israel…BUT also some women among us amazed us. When they were at the tomb early in the morning, and did not find His body, they came, saying that…He was alive… BUT Him they did not see.”
These followers of the crucified Christ were absorbed in the 10x magnification of dashed hopes, particulates of a whole truth. They could only see portions. They could not yet recognize Him full-faced. They needed a new perspective. They needed to flip the mirror over.
Until Jesus comes back, we will continue to see only in part- as in a mirror dimply (or distorted!) We await the fullness of His perfect plan to unfold. It is only as we step back and magnify HIM that we can know and be fully known, and walk in the Truth.
Pray with me: Lord, you, alone, are worthy to be magnified. Forgive me for the times I stare with discontent into a distorted image of You, or myself, or my circumstances. Increase my faith to walk the road of life with you in grace and Truth. May I press evermore into You that I may know You even as I am fully known by You. Amen.