Imagine the universe is a big white box. White walls, white floor, white ceiling. The whole bit is brilliant, blinding white.
Then people come along. And we, in particular people fashion, have decided to claim little squares of this white box for ourselves. For generations, we have carefully taught one another how to mark our respective territories, scratching lines like frames into the white box to define a piece of what’s rightfully (such a relative term) ours. We have no tools, no art supplies, nothing to create with except our worn down fingernails, but scratch we must until we carve out some territory to call our own.
At some point while in the box, usually childhood, when our eyes have adjusted to the white, we start to notice that the box isn’t blinding white at all, but a rainbow of colors. Every color imaginable is splattered on the wall. The brightest bright pink and the deepest blue, red, orange, yellow, green- every color that our rods and cones can fathom are all over the surface of our white box universe. We start to notice how the colors bleed into the borders of our boxes. Some people have beautiful designs in their boxes- lush greens swirled with canary yellow and dabs of aqua. Those with colors framed bright and beautiful stand proudly by and say, “look at how wonderful this is! My frame is the most beautiful there is! I am so lucky!” Everyone envies those with a beautiful bright frame. Bright colors are the only colors that will make you happy, we say.
And if bright colors were all there was, there’d be no story to tell.
There is darkness, you know.
Some people have always had a black frame to call their own. We cower and hide from the shame or the hurt that goes along with watching everyone else have beautiful colors. We long for just a dip of orange, a drop of fuchsia or a streak of sea foam green. Something to focus on other than dark, dark, dark. Scratching, clawing, trying to change our circumstances makes us become bitter and hate the white box universe for being so cruel. Dark is bad, and must be avoided at all costs.
Our hope: the frames are always changing. It’s as if there is an unknown artist painting the walls of the white box universe like a canvas.
And that darkness can spread across a beautifully colored frame so quickly, no one knows how to react. The beautiful swirls of canary yellow and aqua are replaced with a dark brown and navy blue blob. A frame that was once dark is now splashed with neon pink- bright and blinding, dabbed with the deepest crimson, brightest indigo, most vibrant chartreuse.
Our greatest quest in the white box universe is to answer these burning questions:
“Who keeps changing my frame?” we citizens of the white box universe ask.
“Why are some frames light and some dark?”
“How hard and how long do I need to scratch to change my frame myself? Which method should I use?”
“What does this all mean?”
Some develop coping mechanisms for the change, insurance policies against the unknown color-future. There are books and industries and conferences telling you how to get a bright frame, because bright colors are good and dark colors are bad, and somehow we must be able to control which ones we have. Scratch to the left! Use your index finger nail! More forearm and less digit! Sally Johnson prayed six times to the west and her dark brown turned right into an almost-tan. Darius Smith sent money to a charity and worked out three times a day, and half of his hunter green went straight neon in two weeks!
But it is still no use. Sometimes in the blink of an eye or sometimes very slowly, the colorscape of our frames changes. We research, pray, beg and scratch to keep things bright, but somehow darkness always finds its way in. The shift seems to be random. Good people have dark colors. Bad people have the brightest and most beautiful. None of it makes any sense, and the chroma-cacophony has stressed us out for as long as we can remember.
Until one day.
Someone decided to step away from the clawing and scratching. Wandered away from the frame and the frame conferences and the brown insurance sales pitches. Others followed suit. And what these brave few saw changed them forever. Like for eternity, forever.
No one can see it up close, but written on the walls of the universe, in the deepest crimson and amidst all the other colors is a simple sentence.
YOU ARE PRECIOUS TO ME.
The masterpiece had been there all the time. But we couldn’t see it. We were too worried about our individual frames and if we had a bright enough frame. But from way far back, we could see that dark colors and bright colors were all working together to make the piece beautiful. The artist wasn’t concerned about who had a light frame and who had a dark frame. He was concerned with painting our white box universe into a beautiful work of art, telling us with every stroke that we are exceedingly loved.
I have been following the story of a family whose teenage daughter has been gravely injured in a car accident. When I read about her, I cried thinking about how her mother must feel, and how I would never be strong enough to stand under such darkness. I read prayers of her friends and family begging God to change this situation from black to yellow- Dark to light. Earlier posts claimed healing in Jesus’ name for her, declared victory over Satan in this and quoted scripture about how God heals people that do His work. Later posts were medical updates- her brain scans show no activity. If a miracle doesn’t happen, her parents will have to hold her hand and unplug the machine that is keeping her alive. Whatever bright and beautiful colors they had in their frame will be dashed to darkness for a very long time, if not forever. I get choked up just thinking about it.
What if a miracle doesn’t happen?
What can we do to make sure one does?
What can change any of this?
Why do bad things happen to good people?
I pray in Jesus’ name that this girl is healed too. But I’m not a Jesus magician. He heals some people and some He does not. God makes some people very very rich and some very poor. God makes some people with seemingly easy lives, and some have to get on their knees every day and pray to see that night. The universe is full of this juxtaposition of dark and bright. Blacks, reds, blues, purples, yellows, browns, light green, dark green- all colors of every spectrum our eye can see. At any given point in our existence, we are a mixture of these colors too. No one is bright all the time. No one is totally black. Why? So God, the ultimate artist, can paint the most amazing masterpiece of His love for us. That is what all of this means. It’s happening. You can’t change it, scratch as you may. The only way to really get through it is to step back and enjoy the masterpiece that is painted before you.
YOU ARE PRECIOUS TO ME, says the Lord. He gave everything He could for you to know that. He himself experienced brightness and darkness so and so you can quit scratching and cancel your brown insurance policy. This is what it all means.