Ways of Seeing Meditations: 13. A Clearer Day
1 Cor 13:12 “For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror.”
Hazy-View Life: I believe there are many people who just go through life with little thought to its meaning, little thought about their role in the scheme of things, little thought about God, little thought about whether they can improve the world by being in it. I suspect, as I listen around, many people simply struggle to survive the day or the week. Life is a round of routines, of things that must be done – getting up, getting dressed, getting fed, getting the family dressed and fed perhaps, getting kids out to school, going to work and so on. For them, the words of Ecclesiastes ring true: “The sun rises and the sun sets, and hurries back to where it rises. The wind blows to the south and turns to the north; round and round it goes, ever returning on its course. All streams flow into the sea, yet the sea is never full. To the place the streams come from, there they return again.” (Eccles 1:5-7) In other words, ‘same old, same old’. No wonder life often seems tedious.
Before and After: But in 2020 all that changed, for a while at least. Writing near the end of the year, while it still drags on, same say life will never be ‘normal’ again, and it is perhaps for that reason that I am writing this particular series about the way we see, because it seems that one of the things we are being challenged about, apart from simply surviving, is the way we actually view life. Once upon a time we got up in the morning and looked out the window and saw the blue sky and sunshine and took it for granted. We went to the fridge and took out our food and took it for granted. We went places, went on holidays and took them for granted. Suddenly we become more aware of these things. If you live in the country you are more likely to be aware of the wonderful world around you. In the Fall, spiders’ webs on hedges in the early morning, covered with dew or frost, become objects of beauty that are never seen in the city. If you live out of town, stepping outside at night you are enthralled by the panorama of the night sky filled with stars, a view denied the town-dweller by light pollution. But even those of us in the country can start to take these things for granted and it’s like we see it all as through a dirty glass; it’s there but that’s all. Now we peer more carefully at these things around us. Before the Pandemic they were just there; now they are things to be seen, considered and appreciated in a new way.
And People: How easy it is to take people for granted. They are always there. Same faces, same characters, same comments, same expectations. And then suddenly we were barred from meeting and Internet communication suddenly took off in a way previously unknown. Before we took church for granted then we were told not to meet. Some focused on their ‘rights’ as if that was the important issue, while failing to see that actually seeing people face to face, relating to them, fellowshipping with them, was the all important things. People stopped being pew-fodder and became important members of a dwindling congregation or at least a separated congregation. I wear glasses (spectacles) as does my wife and like all spectacle wearers we both know that it is so easy for the glasses to become smeary and in need of a clean with a soft material. And then we laugh and say, “Oh, I wondered why it was getting foggy”. It’s exactly the same thing as Paul was seeking to convey when he wrote our starter verse.
The way it is: Now I have been taking this verse to apply to the way it is worked out so often in our day to day living, but I have been implying that that need not be so, we need not look at life or at one another as through a misty piece of glass or through smeary spectacles and I think that is a valid challenge that the Lord has been bringing to us throughout this year. Yet there is the bigger truth that Paul was conveying, that we do not see spiritual things very clearly this side of heaven. The various translators try to convey this: “ For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror” (NIV), or “For now we see in a mirror, dimly,” (NKJV) or, “At present we are men looking at puzzling reflections in a mirror” (JBP) or, “We don’t yet see things clearly. We’re squinting in a fog, peering through a mist” (Msg) or “For now we see through a glass, darkly,” (KJV) Paul is teaching that for now ‘seeing’ God, ‘seeing’ spiritual realities is a bit blurry.
Coping with ‘Blurry’: How do we cope with ‘blurry’ sight, indistinct sight, for this side of heaven that is how it is for every single believer, whoever they are. Not putting aside anything we’ve said above, about learning to see the world around us with new eyes because of the Pandemic, how does the believer cope with not being able to see God, not always being clear about what He is saying or where He is leading? The first answer has to be, accept it and don’t feel guilty about it. When Paul wrote to the Ephesians, as we’ve noted more than once already, about having the eyes of their hearts opened, he prayed that because it wasn’t natural, it was revelation, and those believers needed help to ‘see’ these things. Second, which hopefully should be most obvious, we should pray, Lord please open my eyes that I may see more clearly. Yesterday we considered the blind man partially seeing and noted that clear sight was the goal. We may not be able to see everything clearly this side of heaven but that should not stop us being those who read and study and pray so that we see more clearly than we do now. The Holy Spirit was sent to teach us (Jn 14:26). To learn we need open teachable hearts, hearts that don’t take blurry sight as normal but who ask Him to make it clearer by the day. May that be us.