There is a lot of repetition in religious life from rituals to ordinances, practices, and even scripture reading.
Let’s take scriptures as an example and I’ll let you think about how the metaphor applies to other things. First, imagine you are looking into a mirror, what do you see?
Well, you see yourself, of course, your face is backward but that’s you. If you come back five minutes later, there is your face once again, but maybe you notice something new, an out of place hair, a blemish, or perhaps something stuck in your teeth.
Other than that, everything else seems just as it was.
The mirror itself doesn’t change, if you come back 5 minutes later or 50 years later, it will continue to reflect as it did before.
The purpose of the mirror is not to change, but to enable observation.
They enable us to perceive things in a unique way and to review changes over time. The mirror reveals new things, but those new things do not come from the mirror, they are already there, we just lacked the ability to perceive them.
We return to the same mirror day after day and what is reflected back will continually change by degrees each time. The more we visit the mirror the less we perceive change over time because we are continually comparing short time periods. Step away from a mirror and step back after five years and you might be far more shocked than if you only waited 5 minutes.
I think the scriptures are a lot like this in a way. They don’t change, the words are there, printed on paper and they are not going to rearrange themselves. I think we return to them over and over thinking that there must be something new and amazing to discover and sometimes there is. Over time, some people can grow tired of reading them.
Perhaps they have felt like they’ve pulled all that they can from those words and lose interest. If you change your perception just a little and instead of just observing words, you look back at yourself through those words, what else might you see?
The mind doesn’t age, but it changes just the same. With each day, and the thousands of thoughts and experiences that flow around us, we do indeed take on new paradigms and discard old ones.
The way we see the world changes and we learn new things that build upon or replace old ones. Returning to scripture often will allow you to see yourself in light of inspired words filled with doctrine and principles.
We can then deal with the metaphorical out of place hair, blemish, or embarrassing piece of food stuck in our teeth.
When we look in the mirror, we see a face that progressively grows older and more wrinkled with time. When we gaze often into scripture, we can also behold a change, a countenance that appears less like our own and more like another.
“Beloved, we are God’s children now; what we shall be has not yet been revealed. We do know that when it is revealed we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is.”1 John 3:2