There’s one image of Jesus that sort of freaks me out (in a good way!). It’s the optical illusion you may have seen make the rounds in an email forward or on social media. At first glance, it is a rudimentary black & white line drawing of Jesus. You can make out eyes, nose, and even the long hair we are accustomed to seeing in common portrayals of Jesus. Stare hard at the four dots that run the length of this Jesus’ nose, however, and in thirty seconds close your eyes. Suddenly, a much more complete, clear and beautiful image of Jesus appears. You can check it out for yourselves here. It’s cool….and crazy….all at the same time!

I know that there is a scientific explanation behind the optical illusion, of course, but I think there is real-life spiritual implication there as well.

This Lent, our theme has been “Eyes on Jesus”, based on Hebrew 12:2.

“O come, let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.”

When we began our Lenten observance together at our community meal and Ash Wednesday worship on February 26, how would we ever have guessed that we would entering Holy Week and the climax of the journey just a few weeks later pondering how to worship from home via Zoom with homemade palms? To say that this has been a unique Lenten journey is an understatement. We are being asked to trust in ways we have never been asked to trust in circumstances we have never before faced.

Even so, we are assured a few chapters later in Hebrews 13:7 that the source of our hope and strength has not and will not change.

Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever. Hebrews 13:7

Jesus, his identity, his work and his promises will not change no matter what tomorrow brings or how we must adapt our worship and practices over these next weeks and months. We are assured of that!

No, Jesus does not change, but I have found that just as my view of “Optical Illusion Jesus” changes as I stare at those four dots, my view of my circumstances changes as I remain rooted in the Word and stay connected to the Body of Christ. As I keep my eyes on Jesus through his word and the opportunities before me, I see a more complete, clear and beautiful image of what the Lord continues to do in the midst of uncertain times.

Zoom has gone from a little used app on my computer to a lifeline to remain connected through prayer, study and encouragement on Monday nights and Wednesday mornings.

Facebook has gone from a source of cute baby pictures and puppy memes (and a little vacation envy) to a vehicle to receive daily nourishment from God’s word and connect with my brothers and sisters in Christ.

My street has gone from a road out of my neighborhood for our family to study and work to a source of new opportunities for both, as well as an avenue for me to connect with my neighbors (appropriately socially distancing, of course!) as we walk and pray each evening.

Jesus hasn’t changed, but I’m seeing him in new places.

In fact, since I stared at those four dots again before opening this word document to begin writing, Jesus is now showing up as a sort of “virtual watermark” on the white page as I write. I love that. I pray that I will continue to see him as a watermark on everything I see and do today, and I pray that he will be one for you as well.

What about you? How are you seeing Jesus in new ways during this very different Lent? What unexpected ways and places is he showing up in your neighborhoods?