Recently, I was granted the privilege of leading worship for a Women’s Connection gathering where I attend church. Though I had been preparing for it, it was not on my mind when I had the experience I want to share. It reveals such a beautiful picture of the heart of God for us as His kids and is part of the spiritual adventure that continues to thrill me as I see the evidence of His heart everywhere.
It was an ordinary morning, for the most part, and I was going through the motions of my morning routine before heading to work. During my early morning devotional time I’d been thinking about my life over the last two years, the new relationships I’ve been forming and how being with those people has brought more color and detail to the image I now have of God in my life and in the world. I must confess I had not given the Holy Spirit an opportunity to speak to my heart about it any further as I shifted into work mode. But thankfully, our lives do not have to be compartmentalized, and He will continue to speak throughout every ordinary day, if we will continue to keep our hearts open to hear from Him. As I would share later with the ladies at the Women’s Connection, not unlike the apostle Paul’s Damascus road moment, I had an “in the shower moment.” (Ha!) It was a sudden thought coming with such clarity and producing such a perfect and encapsulating image that I knew it was the Holy Spirit. And once I heard it, He knew that the investigator in me would take it from there. The thought? “It’s like a kaleidoscope.”
Make no mistake, I could totally “geek out” right now and pull meaning out of it for days but I will attempt at least a certain level of restraint. (Smile.)
Created by natural philosopher, David Brewster, in 1814, the kaleidoscope in its basic form was simple. Two long and narrow reflective surfaces (mirrors) were placed inside a tube at a carefully calculated angle. In one end of the tube there was an opening for peeping in, and in the other end a clear cell filled with pieces of colored glass. The pieces were made to move by rotating the cell and turning the entire instrument. This produced an infinitely multiplied image that was both symmetrical and always in transformation.
As he explained in his patent submission, David Brewster’s intention for the kaleidoscope was to create something to please the eye and to inspire creativity in others.
The spiritual parallel is deeply intriguing. Relationship with God and with each other is a lot like a kaleidoscope. As we come alongside one another, point ourselves toward the Light and focus our attention, we will see and experience something beautiful reflecting back at us.
The presence of light is fundamental. Without light a kaleidoscope just won’t work, however beautiful the image may be inside it. The Apostle John, who was part of Christ’s inner circle, said of Jesus: “There it was-the true Light [the genuine, perfect, steadfast Light] which, coming into the world, enlightens everyone.” (John 1:9-AMP) By the life He led, Jesus revealed the way to live in relationship with both God and with one another. Jesus taught in Matthew 6:9 (TPT) to speak to God (pray) in this way: “Beloved Father, dwelling in the heavenly realms, may the glory of Your name be the center on which our lives turn.” I don’t deny that it is certainly possible to have deep connections with others apart from Him. However, with my life focused on Jesus and revolving around the glory of His name, the intricacy and beauty of my own relationships with both my Heavenly Father and others are made more brilliant.
The Greek language has a beautifully rich word for this Christ-centered connection: Koinonia. It has been frequently translated in Scripture as fellowship. As such, I fear its deeper meaning is lost to those of us in western culture since our understanding of fellowship is often reduced to meeting for a meal and having polite conversation over dinner. But koinonia suggests a much richer experience. It is not simply a coming together for the sake of coming together, but involves a spiritual unity that is difficult to describe but unmistakable when experienced. (Read 1 John 1:3, 7; Philippians 2:1-2; Philemon 1:6-7) It is that common sense of belonging to and being loved by the same Father, sharing in the same redemption of Jesus, His Son, and being guided and comforted by the same Holy Spirit.
A kaleidoscope provides a striking picture of that kind of unity; that coming together to focus on the common bond we share in the Light and Love of Christ in the midst of a broken world. As we live in transparency with one another, each individual’s perspective and experience of how Christ has redeemed the brokenness in their own lives, set at an angle to our own, adds color and beauty and intricacy to the image of Who God is and can be in our lives.
I’m reminded of the verse in 2 Corinthians 3:18 that says “We all, with unveiled faces, are looking as in a mirror at the glory of the Lord and are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory; this is from the Lord who is the Spirit.” (HCSB) We who have entered into relationship with Christ are intended to reflect His image as we experience life. The colors of His love and redemption, the glory of Who He is, can be seen in every moment that we walk with Him, if we will only look. Each of us and our life experiences reflect that in a unique way.
As with the pieces in a kaleidoscope, life is constantly changing and the tides are always turning. There are many moments when the pieces tumble again that I wonder in my own personal experience “God, how could You possibly redeem this?” And yet, I’m coming to understand that it is in those moments when I am struggling that, rather than isolating myself, perhaps it is koinonia that I need. Coming alongside others who know Him, and hearing the testimony of their redemptive experiences with Him, reflects back to me a clearer image of Who God really is when my vision is cloudy. Not only so, the shared experience energizes and enlivens my spirit to keep moving with joy and hope that the Creator still has the power to get creative with my life, especially when the broken pieces shift again.
It is that joy and hope that reveals yet another thrilling parallel. The kaleidoscope is a toy. The creator’s intention was the joy and pleasure of the child (of any age). It is over two hundred years old, its concept remains the same, and yet, it is still bringing delight to those who will look into it. I believe that is the Creator’s intention for koinonia. Though it is over two thousand years old, the same concept of unity that is revealed by the apostles and the early church as seen in the Scripture is still here. And its intention is for our joy and pleasure as His children.
Sure, we can choose to go it alone, but that is not the Father’s heart for us. It is true that being transparent with the brokenness we have experienced involves a certain level of risk related to how others will respond. But, when we are secure in His love for us, assured that He will guide and keep us, the pleasure and benefit of sharing and experiencing unity in the Spirit far outweighs the risk.
Koinonia’s kaleidoscope is a gift that is worth “looking into.” As we allow others who share the same heart for Christ into our circle, and permit ourselves to be drawn into theirs, the Holy Spirit connects us deeply. He sets each of us next to the other at just the right time, and in just the right way revealing the beautiful image of His redemptive glory reflecting back at us. The joy and hope that He can and will create something beautiful from the broken pieces when life takes yet another turn is deep and centering and richly satisfying…sheer pleasure!
So, Holy Spirit, we point ourselves toward the Light and focus…Creator and created, Father and children. We thank You for the gift of koinonia…the gift of each other, and the oneness we share with You. Give us the courage to be transparent in our brokenness, knowing Your redemptive glory is revealed in us and made richer by the shared experience. And we pray as Jesus taught us, “may the glory of Your name be the center on which our lives turn…”
When the pieces tumble…Beautiful brokenness…
Find more of Amy’s writing on her personal blog: https://www.thisburningpursuit.com