Relationships, when they’re limited to being purely transactional lose the beauty of their original intent. Having a best friend or a lover isn’t about knowing you’ll always have at least one person at your party or someone to help pay the bills during tough times. Those relationships are about truly knowing another and being known and the truth is that after many years of spending time with one another the line between who you are and who they are becomes more and more blurred. After nine years of marriage I know for a fact that Katie and I sometimes laugh the same way, have the same thoughts at the same time or just “know” when the other person is feeling uncomfortable in a room. I remember being at university and my new friends being able to tell what suburb and high school I came from due to my vocabulary and even the nuance of my voice.
Perhaps one thing Modernism had robbed us of a little and Post Modernism attempted to reverse was that our relationship with our heavenly Father is no different. Hundreds of years of transactional law and knowledge without intimate relationship was brought to something of an aggressive end in Jesus when he lived among us with incredible patience and compassion. Jesus exemplified what life in God could look like. We were no longer to just imagine calling him in to situations or our hearts but were invited to be called into him permanently.
So, if our earthly relationships involve our involuntary blending into the cultural likeness of those around us how much more so those of us caught up in the divine dance of the wonderful God? If we find ourselves sounding, looking, thinking and imagining like the people we spend the most time with, how much more so the very One who dwells within us feeding our every life giving thought?
Personally, this is how I view the existence of seeing pictures in my life. I’m a visual person, almost everything I understand comes through seeing. I don’t remember facts well at all but show me a picture representing a fact and I’ll remember it for life. This is possibly why God has historically used pictures to communicate to me. I used to imagine them as emails being sent to me in order that I could deliver a message to another person but now I realize that they are like a momentary screen share between God’s imagination and mine. I’m seeing what God is feeling and seeing because he’s in me, not receiving a message from a distant Person. We are one, so of course our thoughts and imagination will reflect that more obviously at times.
Pictures on the whole I would define slightly differently from visions. For me pictures are often static and brief whereas visions act out like stories and can morph. Almost 100% of the time I could pass pictures off as my imagination except that upon acting on them I’ve found them more often than not to be profoundly true.
I once saw a picture of a hole being punched through a friends heart as I spoke to them. I felt God saying they were about to experience a broken heart but that God would restore them beyond their pain. They weren’t even in a relationship at the time and I didn't feel close enough to them at the time to share the word. A year later when I saw them again they’d been through the hardest year of their life due to a break up with a new love.
We are often so afraid of our imagination because we believe it’s driven only by our own agendas and that’s necessarily true many times. But the other truth is that we’re moving and flowing in the midst of The Very God and sometimes his foresight pierces our minds sight and we’re invited into his perfect imagination for another. That process occurs naturally more and more as we spend time with him, knowing him more deeply, and learning to listen.
Pictures are often not literal. They’re an invitation to explore the color and imagery of meaning in another’s life. Sharing pictures is as dependent on our understanding of God’s love for people as it is on the interpreting of signs and wonders. We can’t truly grasp the meaning of the images we see without a deep and lasting relationship with the One who gives them. I used to believe in an urgent passing on of everything that popped up but now I feel more sure that God wants me to sit with them a little while until he makes their meaning clear so I can use it to truly love the person involved.
Pictures, I believe, are like poems. They offer more than one reflection on an issue through embellished color and tone. How they’re interpreted is up to the receiver of that particular piece of art, their maturity, grace and compassion.
So, the next time something flashes into your minds eye and you’re tempted to think nothing of it why not just take a moment to write it down, pray about it and let it inform your relationship with God and that person. It may just influence you’re compassion, wisdom or intercession in a way that could change their life and at least as incredibly or even more so, encourage you that you are hearing his voice more than you’d ever realized.