McDowell Technical Community College

Marlene’s Meditations

The Right Angle

By Marlene Houk

Burke County

As I watched, the confident young man lurched back just in time to narrowly miss tumbling over the cliff. But, wait, that couldn’t be! We were in the middle of a busy city street. My eyes couldn’t fathom the tangled jungle of branches and frightening drop-offs in front of me. While my heart slowly resumed its normal beat, I saw him carefully look at what had caused his near miss with death. Across the chasm, the anamorphic drawing leered menacingly, mocking our surprise. But, when I looked at it from a different angle, I realized that it was simply two dimensional, not three. What the young man had feared did not exist. What he had assumed was irrelevant. And the sudden change of direction was unnecessary.

Do you know the definition of anamorphic art?

According to the website, Anamorphosis, in the visual arts, [is] an ingenious perspective technique that gives a distorted image of the subject represented in a picture when seen from the usual viewpoint but so executed that if viewed from a particular angle, or reflected in a curved mirror, the distortion disappears and the image in the picture appears normal. [It] was first employed in the 17th century, … The first examples appear in Leonardo da Vinci’s notebooks.

Look up for some examples of street art using this anamorphic method. They look so real that it’s difficult not to react to the emotion of what your brain is assuming. The clever angles distort reality and absorb our minds, distracting us from walking on down the sidewalk.

This method of art reminds me of a biblical principle. Sometimes, our lives slither into distortion when we view it from our perspective rather than the Bible’s insight. Our issue becomes frightening, looming like an ogre. But, when we look at the problem through the particular angle of Scripture, our lives return to normal, and our fears slink away, possibilities bloom and hope is reborn! The following verse urges us to look at the correct angle of our lives, through the eternal perspective rather than an earthly one.

2 Corinthians 4:18 While we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal.

This correct perspective will restore our hope and trust in the LORD who designed the portrait of our lives with His own palette of stunning colors. The right angle to assessing our own situations is so succinctly stated in Philippians 1:6

Philippians 1:6 Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ:

The women in the Gospels underscore this critical idea of looking at life through the right angle of God’s Word. Mary Magdalene was from the town of Magdala, a prosperous Galilean seacoast village even in biblical times. But to Mary, the town held unimaginable memories of the horrors of demon possession. The anamorphic picture of her past labeled her with the shame and fear of her tormentors. The roaring lion of evil had possessed her with his immense power and hovered on the verge of consuming and consigning her to hell. But a miracle of epic proportions instantly changed her life when Jesus cast out seven demons. She gratefully followed him, traveling and serving with him in his 2.5 to 3.5-year ministry. Magdalene was the name for her ugly past, and she was forever linked with its humiliation. Sometimes our past follows us inexorably into the future, mocking our efforts to lose it.

But, once I learned that the word, Magdala, actually means tower, the first verse that occurred to me was

Proverbs 18:10 The name of the Lord is a strong tower: the righteous runneth into it, and is safe.

The LORD Himself had become her Magdala, her strong tower! From her new angle, the degradation and terrors no longer frightened or condemned her. She was Mary, and her past had been redeemed by her Magdala, her strong tower! She had run into her strong tower, Jesus, and was safe! Safe from the possibility of falling into the anamorphic pit of her past! Safe from the shame of falling into the deep dark of inadequacy, poor choices and gossip! Safe from tumbling into a life of aimlessness and desperation! Her past was two-dimensional and powerless before the King of the Universe!

So, today, when we look at our own lives, we, like Mary Magdalene can choose to look at it from a different angle. We can look at it from the angle of Romans 8:28 where God redeems our victimization, our betrayals and our shame. Jesus Christ our Savior gives us a new angle full of hope and forgiveness and tells us to walk on in faith!

As he stumbled backward a couple of steps, the sidewalk traveler realized the art designed to trick him, and then simply walked confidently over the crevasse of the jungle, ready to resume his journey in life.

So, the next time you are tempted to believe what your eyes see, take a step back, look at your problems, perceptions and pleasure from the biblical angle of eternity as directed in 2 Corinthians 4:18. It’ll clear up the distorted images of life, relax the soul and provide powerful biblical thinking to overcome the anamorphic misperceptions of life!