I Can’t See the Big Picture
For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known. So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love.1 Corinthians 13:12-13
I recently found myself looking at a large picture – maybe eight feet by ten feet in size – hanging on a wall. I was in a narrow hallway though, and so I couldn’t stand back from it. Close to it, I saw what appeared to be several large grain elevators. As I progressed down the hall, I imagined corn fields, but the further I got, the less it made sense. Finally, I got to a doorway on the opposite side and was able to take a step back, seeing the whole picture, discovering that it was a beach scene. What I’d thought to be grain elevators were bucket-shaped sandcastles grouped together.
Close to the picture, I couldn’t’ tell what I was looking at and so, my mind filled in the gaps based on my expectations and past experiences. My initial interpretations were wildly wrong, but it’s what I saw and at the time, it was real to me. Still, I was way off, and it was only when I could finally stand back, that I could comprehend and see the whole clearly.
This is similar to the metaphor Paul used in today’s passage. In it, he described looking in a mirror, which likely would have been polished brass at that time. Compared to our mirrors, this would have provided a poor reflection and so, the one looking into it would have had an incomplete understanding of what he or she was seeing.
Someday, we will be able to see reality clearly, but for now, we have an incomplete picture. We get only a glimpse – what we know – and the rest, we fill in based on our expectations and experiences, which, like my hallway picture interpretation, is often wildly wrong. There are so many things we simply cannot understand in this life, and so, we need faith and hope. We must have faith in God and we must have hope that he truly wants what’s eternally best for us.
This is hard though, and without loving God and believing that he loves us, it’s nearly impossible. One day, we won’t need faith and hope, because all will be revealed. For now though, we must have faith and hope that God loves us. We must love him in return, for it is only love that lasts forever.