Why I am not going to finish the series

So, perhaps, you may have noticed that I have not been posting the rest of the series as I said I would. Well, I went out of town for a blog conference, and I tell you, I stopped everything to get ready, to leave, and to be present at the conference. I am not giving up on the series, as I would like to finish it and give it to you in an ebook, but I will not be posting any more Image Reflections here in this space for now. :)

Actually, I want to do a better job of being your hostess in this space, so I plan to take the months of November and much of December off, and we will hopefully meet again after Christmas. I went to the blog conference thinking there were some things I wanted to change, and coming home, I just felt them solidified. There will be some changes – hopefully for the good of both you and me.

I love you, readers; you are valuable treasures.

Before I say adieu for the moment, I need to tell you about something fun. I am participating along with some other bloggers in a giveaway this week. We are each giving away one of our favorite things, and I am giving away a Better Homes & Gardens Cookbook! One person will enter all the things. Exciting, right?

favorite things

  • Kayse is giving away a collection of Martha Stewart Office items!
  • Britta is giving away a ConAir Power Facial Cleanser!
  • Jennifer is giving away a “Be Still” print!
  • Monica  is giving away a Let It Go (by Karen Ehman) Study Pack!
  • Erika is giving away a super cute coffee cozy of your choice!
  • Carey is giving away Cravings, a daily devotional for moms!
  • Kristin is giving away 2 books by Angie Smith – For Such A Time As This & Audrey Bunny!
  • Anna is giving away a candle, tea, and chocolate!
  • Bethany is giving away a Ginger & Lime Sugar Scrub & a 5ml bottle of Wild Orange Essential Oil!
  • Jamie is giving away a Better Homes & Gardens Cookbook!
  • Amanda is giving away a framed print and a $10 gift card to Starbucks!
  • Leeann is giving away a set of linen notecards!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Should we give a child a self-image?

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I realize I am hardly blogging by the outline or by the 31 day schedule. Confession: sometimes writing can overtake real life, and I just needed to attempt to put back in order some of my life chaos. It is tempting to just quit and stop writing the series altogether because of that, but I’m still showing up. I hope these words find each of you well and that you are pondering the things of God. I hope that you will be encouraged by His good news in some way or fashion. May all who are reading these words be blessed.

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One of the most profound questions Madeleine L’Engle asks in her book, A Circle of Quiet, is “should we give a child a self-image?” She writes that one of her pupils, Yetta, in one of her short term classes, states that a child should be given a self-image, and then Madeleine herself ponders the answer and truth of this throughout the book. Her immediate reply to Yetta is,

“Hold everything, Yetta. All my little red warning flags are out. I sniff danger here. Do we want to give the child an image of himself–mirror vision? Or do we want what is real?”

This question of giving a child a self-image is contrary to what is taught in schools today. Without a doubt, educators are trying to give children self-images, and most of the time, we mindlessly agree. At some point in the book, she asks, “How do we give the child a self?”

As an adult looking back at my childhood self, I see things differently than how I perceived them at the time. I wish for things to be different. I wish that my “self” had been seen and nurtured. Since I’ve always struggled with identity, I wish someone had guided me in my strengths and weaknesses and helped me explore who I was, who I am. Yet how can the glance back be what is totally real? My perception versus others thoughts and perceptions are often not the same. It is easy to look back and place blame on a parent, and now as a parent myself, I am sensitive to the fact that much of what I am doing could at some point be seen as damaging to my child later. As a parent, I shape my child, but ultimately, in Christ, He uses every thing happening in our lives to shape us, to mold us into His image of who He wants us to be. We are His creation, and while we are the created, we are still being created.

Ultimately, Christ gives the child a self, but how can any adult be a facilitator of this giving the child a self without knowing the child? And who can ever fully know anyone else?

My daughter is half of me and half alien. :) I joke. We are very similar. There are parts of her that I so identify with, and yet, there are aspects of her that I have to dig for, like mining treasures, I seek to know her. She, being like me, is hard to know, but I must keep trying to get her “self” to rise to the surface and come out so that I can know her, understand her, love her. My love is always an incomplete love, because I am unable to fully know her. Jesus’s love for her is complete, because He knows her fully. He sees the depths and heights of her heart.

“Am I going to do a good deed? Then, of all times, – Father, into thy hands: lest the enemy should have me now.” George MacDonald

Madeleine L’Engle on the above quote: “George MacDonald implies that as long as we put ourselves in God’s hands, then maybe something good can happen, not because of us, but because He helps.”

We must shape our children asking God to use us as His tools.

“Grandma gave me herself, and so helped to give me myself. Is that what Yetta was getting at? Yetta being Yetta, I think it was. But it’s one thing to talk consciously about giving oneself away and another to do it, for it must be done completely unself-consciously; it is not a do-it-yourself activity. No computer can teach it; no computer can show a child compassion, or how to allow people to be different, to experiment, to love. Almost all the joyful things of life are outside the measure of IQ tests, are beyond the realm of provable fact. A person is needed. But if any teacher, no matter how qualified, no matter how loving goes into a classroom thinking, “I am going to give a child a self,” it can’t possibly happen. -Madeleine L’Engle, “A Circle of Quiet”

Image Anomalies

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I was in the fifth grade when I started taking piano lessons. Fifth grade was the year I started middle school, and probably the year that I started looking in all the mirrors, so piano became this amazing thing for me, as it was the only way in which I remember being encouraged creatively. Ms. Stewart was my teacher, and I remember on our first meeting, I did not think she was attractive. She was a voluptuous woman with medium build. She wore red lipstick which occasionally smeared onto her teeth, and she had longer dark brown hair that she curled. She looked like a personality if you know what I mean, but she was a nice Christian lady who dressed modestly. There was just something about her that was different from the women I was used to.

As I took piano lessons, my heart and her appearance started to change. No, her appearance did not really change. Everything about her looked the same, but I saw her as beautiful. It was because I loved her. It was the first time I realized that a heart is the not the same as the outside.

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When we went to Disney World, the younger two kids and I were sitting on a bench eating a snack, and a special needs man on a wheelchair came driving up to us and gave us Mickey Mouse stickers. He was the happiest, most beautiful person I have seen in a while. He conversed with us, and then drove away. I was hoping the kids would see him too, you know with heart eyes, not their eye-eyes. I chatted with them for a bit, but neither had found him strange or unusual – that they voiced to me anyway.

I don’t have special needs kids, but I have friends who do. Listening to their stories and watching their children has taught me about image anomalies. Those are the people who the world would not necessarily call beautiful, but that seem to understand the world the most in so many ways – like how to treat people and how to look in the mirror without shame. Now, certainly these people do not have it easier. The world is always shunning and shaming them and trying to get them to confirm to the world’s mirror.

Because I am a Matrix fan, I see these image anomalies as a “glitch in the Matrix.” The Matrix (a movie from 1999) quote says this, “ A déjà vu is usually a glitch in the Matrix. It happens when they change something.” I see these “glitches” not as a glitch but as something special God has given us to see what life could be like if we saw with our heart eyes too.

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The most beautiful man to walk the face of the earth was Jesus, yet Isaiah says this of him, “Out of emptiness he came, like a tender shoot from rock-hard ground. He didn’t look like anything or anyone of consequence—he had no physical beauty to attract our attention.” The image of God had no physical beauty of which to attract our attention. Yet He is all that is beautiful.

I guess Jesus, Himself, was an image anomaly. Surely these image anomalies exist purposefully to teach us true beauty.

Take no notice of his looks or his height. He is not the one, for the Eternal One does not pay attention to what humans value. Humans only care about the external appearance, but the Eternal considers the inner character.” 1 Samuel 16:7 (the Voice)

This post is one in a 31 day series of posts called Image Reflections: asking questions of being. You can see all the posts by clicking here.

If you would like to receive all posts from this series to your inbox, you can subscribe here.

Looking in the True Mirror

I missed Monday because I was visiting my sister for my niece’s birthday. I was snuggling my 3 month old nephew and had a thought to share with you. I missed yesterday because I was exhausted, and I almost missed today because…first world problems. Good thing I had already started this one.

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As I held the baby, my daughter, Annabelle, was enamored with him. His soft skin, his total dependence, his cries for needs to be met – his image is perfect.

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As I caressed his skin, I thought about how we all want baby skin – no wrinkles, super soft, sheer perfection. In contrast, my skin is calloused. Don’t you think that’s why a baby’s skin is soft and ours is not as soft? We’ve built up a thicker layer of epidermis for our protection and endurance in this world, and then we spend the rest of our lives using creams and lotions and having procedures done to make our skin be more baby-like.

I thought about his scarlessness, and me, I have scars. I have a scar from giving birth to Annabelle. I have scars from cysts removed and fears of the c-word (though I was young and somewhat fearless). I have scars from being in the sun too much – age spots on my face which signify that I am closing in on 40 instead of 30, and I like to wish these spots away and pretend that they are not there. I have scars from burns on my arm just this past year. I have stretch marks from carrying three babies in my belly, and my belly button is stretched out, the elasticity of my skin in that area gone. As I age, I will continue to change shapes, wrinkles will be added to my face, more sun spots will freckle my skin, my hair will continue to gray. A body rarely stays the same. Even a baby has birth marks – the evidence of the trauma of entering the world, the evidence that this world scars. Our bodies are maps of who we are, who we have been, and who we are becoming. Yet often, we are ashamed of the image our body presents to the world.

We are all lumps of clay, and the Maker, He is shaping us. It feels as though we are formless when we enter, but He is aware of our form and of who we are and who we are becoming. He places in each of us certain talents and gifts, desires, and passions, and this all just as created children. Then when we come into his family as adopted children, He gives us spiritual gifts. Some of us are geniuses, some are influencers, some are inventors, and some are story-crafters. Some reach their full potential and some never do, and maybe that’s because we don’t feel awake and alive yet. Maybe we’ve not been made alive and awake yet. Are we like Alice in Wonderland dreaming a great and fantastical dream or is it real?

Looking in the True Mirror

Before the world began, there is only this idea that God was. He is “I am” – the constant, and the hint we have to who we are before the world began is that He chose us. In my mind’s eye, I feel like He had us created and with him, and then in time He sent us to earth, but honestly, perhaps He just saw us in our Today, and we were not there alongside him in Eternity before earth. He is God – not I.

But He blows His breath into us and says go, and a seed is planted in a womb, and our forms grow inside our mothers’ wombs. When He created man, He said, “It is good,” and it is not as though He did not know that we would fall and sin would enter the world, and yet, though He knew all you or I would do, He called us good.

There is this precious time in childhood when we are, and we are not ashamed. It is our Garden moment in which we are naked and need no covers. Then about grade 3, 4, or 5, we start to worry about our image. We no longer walk in who we are, but begin to walk in the image of who we want to be or who others think we should be, and the journey of self-image begins. It is when we start looking in all the mirrors. We need an image. At some point, we become the walking dead chained to all the earthly mirrors. We need a resurrection to be fully awake, fully alive so that we spend the rest of our days chasing Him with all that we are, whether you know who you are or not.

He has made You.

You are known.

His mirror says this,

O Eternal One, You have explored my heart and know exactly who I am;
You even know the small details like when I take a seat and when I stand up again.
    Even when I am far away, You know what I’m thinking.
You observe my wanderings and my sleeping, my waking and my dreaming,
    and You know everything I do in more detail than even I know.
You know what I’m going to say long before I say it.
    It is true, Eternal One, that You know everything and everyone.
You have surrounded me on every side, behind me and before me,
    and You have placed Your hand gently on my shoulder.
It is the most amazing feeling to know how deeply You know me, inside and out;
    the realization of it is so great that I cannot comprehend it.

Can I go anywhere apart from Your Spirit?
    Is there anywhere I can go to escape Your watchful presence?

If I go up into heaven, You are there.
    If I make my bed in the realm of the dead, You are there.
If I ride on the wings of morning,
    if I make my home in the most isolated part of the ocean,
Even then You will be there to guide me;
    Your right hand will embrace me, for You are always there.
Even if I am afraid and think to myself, “There is no doubt that the darkness will swallow me,
    the light around me will soon be turned to night,”
You can see in the dark, for it is not dark to Your eyes.
    For You the night is just as bright as the day.
    Darkness and light are the same to Your eyes.

For You shaped me, inside and out.
    You knitted me together in my mother’s womb long before I took my first breath.
I will offer You my grateful heart, for I am Your unique creation, filled with wonder and awe.
    You have approached even the smallest details with excellence;
    Your works are wonderful;
I carry this knowledge deep within my soul.
    You see all things; nothing about me was hidden from You
As I took shape in secret,
    carefully crafted in the heart of the earth before I was born from its womb.
You see all things;
    You saw me growing, changing in my mother’s womb;
Every detail of my life was already written in Your book;
    You established the length of my life before I ever tasted the sweetness of it.
Your thoughts and plans are treasures to me, O God! I cherish each and every one of them!
    How grand in scope! How many in number!
If I could count each one of them, they would be more than all the grains of sand on earth. Their number is inconceivable!
    Even when I wake up, I am still near to You.

I wish You would destroy all the wicked, O God.
    So keep away from me, those who are thirsty for blood!
For they say such horrible things about You,
    and those who are against You abuse Your good name.
Is it not true that I hate all who hate You, Eternal One?
    Is it not true that I despise all who come against You?
Deep hatred boils within me toward them;
    I am Your friend, and they are my enemies.
Explore me, O God, and know the real me. Dig deeply and discover who I am.
    Put me to the test and watch how I handle the strain.
Examine me to see if there is an evil bone in me,
    and guide me down Your path forever.

Psalm 139, The Voice

For we, His people, are works of art. Me, you – yes, great masterpieces (Eph 2:10), and as He works the lumps of clay we are, we become. He continually making, remaking, and shaping.

He calls us, saying, O, sleeper, Awake!

Like Neo from the Matrix, we do, and we learn a whole new way of living, defying constraints through His power.

 

Interesting links on image I saw this week (I’ve been seeing image in everything lately):

 

This post is one in a 31 day series of posts called Image Reflections: asking questions of being. You can see all the posts by clicking here.

If you would like to receive all posts from this series to your inbox, you can subscribe here.

Pinnable Bible Verse

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Downton Abbey quote on image

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on imagery and Pharisees

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Today I meant to delve further into the types of images we create, but I was thinking about creativity.  I will try to explain my examples from yesterday at some point later in the series. I wish I had built into my series some creative writing exercises as even though I love the subject, I am certain I am not practicing the best of my writing or maybe having as much fun as I could, so I will add it somewhere – image by imagery. :)

Taking a cue from Beth Moore, I apologize because I took an unexpected turn to talk about chiasms and alchemy, which are topics perhaps hard to read or understand if unfamiliar with the subject. Just bare with me because I will make a point.

How many of you like to read fantasy books? I don’t read one particular type of book, but what I love about the Harry Potter series and other similar series (like K. B. Hoyle’s the Gateway series) is the alchemy. What many authors of the past have done is use elements and imagery of magic and reality to create stories that capture spiritual elements in a way that intrigues readers who may not be interested in spiritual imagery or questions beforehand. One element that is often used is the idea of the serpent eating his own tail, which symbolizes infinity. Personally, I prefer a circle.

In literature and in the Bible, there is a literary device called chiastic structure. This comes from the Greek letter, chi, which looks like this: X, which is like an open-ended infinity symbol. An idea is presented A, then idea B, then B’ is presented, then A’. (Sigh: I am not a literature teacher, nor am I super knowledgeable on this, and this is a very hard concept.) A and B usually contrast one another and then come back to the beginning point of A, thus the reason it is also called a “ring structure,” like a circle. Whether a reader knows chiastic structure is being used or not does not matter; it is a very effective manner of story telling. I believe it adds a great deal to a story. I don’t know if other writers do, but I equate alchemy, the idea that you can turn base metals into gold, to chiastic structure.

There are many examples of chiastic structure in the Bible, but I believe that the whole entire Bible forms a chiasm or circle. While I have researched this, I have found others that agree with me, but what I have found on it is that someone would have to devote their entire life to proving it to be true, but no one has done that yet. While I am intrigued, I don’t think this will be my life’s pursuit either. If anyone is reading this knows of any other research, I’d love to read it, because my study has been limited.

However, assume with me for a moment that the Bible is a like a circle or infinity ring. If an infinity ring, the middle point where it crosses is where the Old Testament meets the New. This means that what is happening in the first 5 books of the Bible is contrasted with the first 4 books of the New Testament and so on and so forth.

What in the world does this have to do with image? Well for me, I think of the first false image makers to be portrayed in the Pharisees. (They were by no means the first image makers). They were all about building images that were false. In the first part of the bible, we see literal idols and images carved into actual earthly elements, and then in the New Testament, we see men who have carved images into their very hearts and souls.

The Pharisees have taken something good, God’s law, and perverted it, so that the Law no longer gives life. They believe they follow the Law to a T, so they have no idea that they are idolators. What was a literal idol in the Old Testament has become a conceptual idol in the New Testament, but a perversion nonetheless. In the Old Testament, salvation comes through the giving of the Law (not the Law itself), but in the New Testament, Jesus is the clear picture of Law and salvation. Because the Pharisees refuse to tear down the idols in their own hearts, they cannot see the true life offered through Jesus. They believe Jesus is the idol, so they tear Him down, much like the Israelites could not wait for Moses to come off the mountain so they made a golden calf. However, Jesus is truth, not a graven image. He is the greatest expression of life, and in dying He breaks death. Even as He is dying, He is making a way for their heart idols to be removed.

Sometimes today, we do to Jesus what the Pharisees did to the Law. We pervert Jesus into something He is not – perhaps the most dangerous imagery and image making of all.

What are your thoughts?

This post is one of a 31 day series, Image Reflections: asking questions of being. You can read more in this series by clicking the icon below.

JH-ButtonSMIf you would like to keep up with all the posts, be sure to subscribe here. Thank you for subscribing – if there is any way I can further serve you, please feel free to drop me a note in my inbox.

 

What are some examples of dead images in us?

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If you have not read through my post on graven images, I walked through how an image is anything that is dead and does not bring life to others, including our own pursuits.

Yesterday, I gave you an example of how I was struggling with image – the first example of a dead image. Thanks for sticking with me in my humanity. Being a person who tends to be reserved in person, I wonder if I am too real with you in writing sometimes.

What are some examples of dead images in us?

Dead images are widespread and varied, so let’s just start with some basic images that most of us can identify and relate to.

Let’s start with an 80’s move, the Breakfast Club, to help us generalize some images:

  • the brain
  • the athlete
  • the basket case
  • the princess
  • the criminal

These categorizes quickly put a face to a type of person for us. Most of the time, these categories are our image, but sometimes they are what is really real about us. Sometimes a stereotype is real and sometimes it is an image that we portray or that others falsely believe about us. Often we form tribes around our image.

When I was brainstorming for the series, I listed of the following types of image, many pertaining especially to Christians:

  1. appearance – thin, beautiful, attractive, well dressed
  2. communication – well spoken, articulate
  3. wisdom – those that rely solely on doctrine or intellect
  4. righteous – unwilling to admit our humanity
  5. holy – those who seem to have a direct line to God

and the list could go on with other types like: nerdy, cool, preppy, punk, hipster, etc.

How many of us are really as we are stereotyped?

What about Christian image?

Mainstream culture has an image of Christians. I’m not sure I would like their image, but when I think of “christian,” it is so varied and undefinable because we are a myriad of people such that I cannot settle on one particular image. However, the “christian” image should be a reflection of Christ – united in Him as a person and as a body. I cannot help but wonder how we could reflect Christ better. However, I think though we move toward Him in heart obedience, His work in us is the brilliance of Himself, so today a prayer for our image.

Lord,

We have failed you and ourselves. You said that you gave us a new command to love as You love us, and yet we as a people have not always loved you, ourselves, or others well. We have become like the Pharisees, rule followers going in lifeless motion, but Lord, we need a revival across the land and across the world. Let your Spirit so richly dwell in us that Light is cast brighter than the sun so that we shine the Son. Jesus is the image of you, the invisible God. As His ambassadors, we ask that we may be alive, full of Spirit, and full of your glory, that we may be a display of your glorious splendor. Lord, that we would see hearts moved, and the world changed. Hope given, and Love received. Let us be Lovers of You so that we can Love those you also Love. Let our false images fall away. Let us remove idols and see ourselves as you see us and grant the same to the aching world around us. I am reminded of the words of the song, “God’s not dead, He’s surely alive. He’s living on the inside, roaring like a lion.” We want others to see this in us. We want you to resurrect dead hearts – even our own. Make us Jesus lovers. Let us accept the breath You breath into us, and let us breath life into others. In Jesus’ name.

Amen

 

This post is one of a 31 day series, Image Reflections: asking questions of being. You can read more in this series by clicking the icon below.

JH-ButtonSMIf you would like to keep up with all the posts, be sure to subscribe here. Thank you for subscribing – if there is any way I can further serve you, please feel free to drop me a note in my inbox. Also, let me know if you have any questions.

in which i must tell you how “image” feels

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It is late on Tuesday night and heading into Wednesday morning as I am writing to you. I cannot sleep – I am wide awake with all the feeling.

in which i must tell you how “image” feels

Something about yesterday’s post (what is a graven image?), (which if you are an email subscriber, you will be reading today) felt so vulnerable. And I am not sure what or why, but I feel a little splayed open and vulnerable. As if I have cut out my beating heart and left it here not knowing what you will do with it.

It is a lot of things really – God is doing something deep and new and something so unfamiliar in me in this season with all I have felt about church and all the transitions, that I feel like an island, alone. I was sending a fellow blogger/writer a note, and it was if I realized it for the first time. I’ve never been one of the cool kids – I feel like connection is hard for me, and during this time of unfamiliar territory and newness of work in me, I am afraid of getting lost, like a little girl at Disney World in a sea of faces, especially with whatever He is doing in me that I can’t seem to quite put into words. We (He and I) are journeying together, but I do not know the destination. I guess that is faith. Walking without seeing.

In a few weeks, I am going to go to the Allume conference, which is a Christian blog conference. Though I went last year, I still feel like a newbie, and by no stretch of the imagination would anyone call me a cool blogging kid. I am a small fish in a big pond, and last year, I felt so small. I am afraid of facing my smallness again, of going and not connecting, but most of all, of not being seen. If I am honest, perhaps that’s why I feel vulnerable tonight – I wonder if I am seen.

Yet, I know I am seen. I was so excited to catch a ride with some fellow Alabama women, and last week, they canceled on me. I was heartbroken. Honestly, I was hoping that I did not have to go alone this year. Then today, I got an email from another blogger asking for a ride, and I felt like it was God saying, “I see you.”

Whatever God is doing in me during this awkward time is fostering in me a sense of desire to serve, to do justice, not just know what I believe, but live it. Today was another way He nudged me and said, “I see you,” by allowing me to tour a local ministry with a vision for service like the one He’s growing in me for church. Not only that, but I got to better know a friend in the process, which is always a gift. So many times, I run ahead and try to make God’s plan come to pass, but this time, I can only trust Him in the progress we make together. There is no way to run ahead if you don’t have the map.

What this has to do with image is that even though I am me, and I look at myself in God’s mirror, I still catch glimpses of myself in the world’s mirror. When we look in the world’s view, it is easy to feel less than and like you must do more to be more. Even in the right mirror, it is easy to see all the other gifts He has given all the other people and covet them like everything, especially when we are unsure of our own specific gifts and callings.

You see how easy it would be for me to pretend to be fine and keep on blogging the next topic? To pretend that tears did not come and that my spirit did not feel quiet or interrupted? To pretend like I am a grownup who does not at all care whether I fit in or not, when I do? That would be a graven image. dead. false. How easy it is to go from being seen in His mirror to being insecure in the world’s mirror, where size matters and I will never measure up! I have done a lot to remove human approval from places on high, but at times, like tonight, I still see those faces I’ve carved up there on the shelf, with me looking for their acceptance, but those idols can never save me.

Jesus is the only one who Saves. When He calls me, I forget the world around me because we are two lovers and He woos me. We walk side by side, and as I gaze into His eyes, He shows me my true self. When I know Whose I am, I know who I am.

How can you share your authentic self today? What can you do today to fix your eyes on His?

 

What is a graven image?

When I was thinking about images – I stumbled onto an interesting idea.

What is a graven image?

In Exodus 20:4, it says, “You shall not make for yourself an image in the form of anything in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the waters below.”

Honestly, it sounds like we cannot create anything – and maybe we are limited in what we should create. Let’s think through it before we decide.

When it says, “make for yourself an image,” sometimes it is translated “graven image” and sometimes “carved image” and sometimes “idol.”

I did a little word study because I was curious about graven, and this may be a stretch, I don’t know, but it spoke to me.

Graven also evolved into engrave, which means to cut or carve out. But the word graven comes from the word grave, which used to mean “to dig or excavate,” which is how we over time formed the word “grave” to refer to burial. It also means to carve or to shape, or to impress or to fix (as a thought) deeply. The word grave also alludes to “death,” which is one reason “grave” also refers to a serious situation. However, when I looked at these things in the dictionary, I saw that “graven” has only been in use since sometime around the 12th century, which meant there must have been a word in Hebrew that was older and meant relatively the same thing.

I got out my key word study bible where I can find out what Hebrew or Greek words mean, because I wanted to know if there was any link to death in the definition or original language. I wanted to know if a graven image = a dead image.

What I found was that the Hebrew word generally meant, “idol, graven image” and “to carve or to cut.” Since graven is a relatively new word compared to the biblical word I was still intrigued. In the definition, I found a bible verse which supported the idea of a dead image. Generally idols do refer to carved or cut materials such as wood, metal, or stone, but could it refer to more than carved images?

DeadImagesEveryone is senseless and without knowledge;
    every goldsmith is shamed by his idols.
The images he makes are a fraud;
    they have no breath in them. Jeremiah 10:14

If you have extra time, read the whole chapter (Jeremiah 10).

The word translated breath generally means, “spirit, wind, breath,” and often refers to the Holy Spirit.

What does this mean for us?

It means that any image without life is dead – even the personal images we create, the images we think about, and the way we choose to create anything – if it is not Spirit breathed, then it is a dead image or idol.

The Bible without the Spirit is a dead idol, but we don’t have to worry about that because the Bible says that it is God-breathed (2 Tim 3:16).

You without the Spirit are a dead idol because you are your own god.

A book written out of our own creativity without the life-force of God could in fact be an idol.

Anything we pursue that God has not fanned the flame of pursuit is a dead pursuit.

However, with God as creator in you, you are free to create. Naturally, being in the image of God, there is an innate desire in us to create, and I think this applies to all mankind.

Think about how He created us – He breathed life into us. What we create should breathe life into us and to others.

As we think about who we are, it only makes sense that we should gravitate to the things that give us energy and incite passion in us – God has designed us with certain passions for a reason. Those passions are a clue to who you are.

The places we pretend and hide – those are dead images; those are the ways in which we are fraudulent. Perhaps that’s why God insisted that Adam and Eve come out of hiding in the beginning. It is impossible to have a relationship with God if we insist on pretending or hiding.

Could it be that the reason He does not want us to create graven images is that it is easier to worship the created and what we’ve created over the true Creator? Could it be that graven images lead to death not life and He wants what is best for us – to live life abundantly and to offer it to others as well?

 

This post is one of a 31 series called Image Reflections. To see further posts in the series, click the button below:

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