Mine Eyes Have Seen the Glory
Recently I took a hike with some friends up into the Cascade foothills (western Washington State) on a Saturday afternoon, to a place called “Summit Lake.” The weather forecast was iffy, but it turned out to be mostly sunny as we were hiking in and while we ate our lunch by the lake. But as we finished eating, the clouds were rolling in, down the cliff on the other side of the lake, and enveloping us in fog.
We hoped and prayed the fog/clouds would clear, and we resumed our hike, which would take us in a wide circle around the lake basin and up above the cliff side to a lookout area where, on a clear day, you have an incredible view of Mt. Rainier. The clouds partly cleared by the time we got there, and we had a pretty majestic vista. We were able to see most of the mountain as the sun came out again. Then we started back down, praising God for the wonderful treat we had seen. Little did we know that a much greater gift was in store.
Several of us decided to go back the way we had come, as the brushy area ahead was wet. The children with us scampered on ahead, and soon called the adults over to the cliff area where they were, to see the rainbow they were looking at.
What we saw was no ordinary rainbow, which would have filled a major section of the sky. Rather, we saw a miniature rainbow, appearing to be maybe 6-10 feet across, nearly full circle, with a bright glow on the inside of it. In the center was our shadow, with each person seeing his or her own shadow in the very center, and the others’ shadows around that. It was slack-jaw awe-inspiring, unlike anything any of us had seen in our lives. With the late sun at our backs, the “rainbow” would fade in and out as the fog came and went over Summit Lake. We watched for several minutes until the fog seemed to be clearing for good, and we thanked the Lord for the glorious spectacle, far better even than the beautiful view we had seen of Mt. Rainier. My friend, Russell, took some pictures of the by-then-fading scene, but they don’t do it justice.
We did some net research and found that these phenomena are called “glories.” It’s possible you have seen them from an airplane, looking down on the clouds, if the sun is just right. I’ve seen that, but this was more spectacular. In fact, we have concluded that it was a type of glory called the “Brocken Spectre,” once believed to be seen only from the rim of the Haleakala Crater on Maui, and from Brocken in the Harz mountains of Germany. It still gives me chills to think about it, and I’m sure I will never forget that moment.
By the way, the day we were there was 9/11/10. I thank God that I now have two mental pictures of 9/11—one of them beyond horrific, but the other one utterly glorious.
It seemed as if God was trying to tell us that, despite the horrible things we often encounter on this earth, the glory that is in store for us will surpass anything we have ever known here. In trying to describe God, Isaiah wrote that no eye has seen nor ear heard anything like our God. The apostle Paul quotes that in 1 Corinthians 2:9 and applies it to the glories that await us.
“No eye has seen, no ear has heard, and no mind has imagined what God has prepared for those who love him.” (NLT)
And in 2 Corinthians 3:11, he says,
“So if the old way, which has been replaced, was glorious, how much more glorious is the new, which remains forever!” (NLT)
It truly was an awesome day and reminded us of the amazingly glorious things that God has planned for us — things we can only dimly imagine now. I long for the day when Christ will come and make all things glorious!
Give Me Fruit, or Give Me Death
by John UpChurch
“And it is my prayer that your love may abound more and more, with knowledge and all discernment, so that you may approve what is excellent, and so be pure and blameless for the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God.” Philippians 1:9-11
For the last several years, my wife and I have dabbled in gardening. I say “dabbled” because each year has brought more frustration than juicy cucumbers. First, we realized the importance of finding a spot that gets enough sunlight. Then, we discovered the joys of unfit or exhausted soils. Most recently, we’ve found how much deer like to nibble on just-about-to-bloom plants.
Master gardeners we are not. All those visions of vegetables and fruits dancing in our freezer have met the brown reality of stunted corn and shriveled peas.
You see, we come at this with some serious deficiencies. Namely, we have no idea what we’re doing. Everything we’ve learned about clays and fertilizer and propping up pumpkin vines has come from a book I picked up at Tractor Supply and various YouTube videos. We’ve cut back the weeds on our ignorance page by page because neither of our families really did much in the way of horticulture (unless you count cutting the grass).
But that doesn’t mean we’ve been completely unsuccessful. In fact, every time we pick something from our garden that’s actually edible, it’s pretty much a party. “We have beans. Who wants to do the bean dance?” I have no shame when it comes to herbal success.
Perhaps that’s because my spiritual growth has come pretty much the same way. Everything I’ve learned about God, salvation, faith, and love has come from the Bible I picked up in 2003 (and all the others since then) and the examples of Christians I’ve met along the way. I stumbled along for years, trying to figure out my newfound freedom in Christ, trying to grasp what it means to be an effective ambassador for Him.
Over and over, I kept trying to make things grow. I’d rush to this fad for spiritual success, dig into this surefire method to overcome my sin nature, and pluck up whatever Christian book that had the answers. Surely the next one would help me be fruitful. Surely this pastor/writer/author/blogger has the best answers for how I can really do what God wants.
The whole time, I missed what Paul said to the Philippians: “the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ.” The fruit comes from Him. God prepared the works for us (Ephesians 2:10), and He provides the growth (1 Corinthians 3:6). Those other sources of wisdom are fine, but they were never any substitute for Christ being formed in me (Galatians 4:19).
It takes time (and will take much, much more), but I wouldn’t trade it for all the juicy cucumbers and plump peaches in the world, even the ones in my own little garden.
What is your first response when someone hurts you? Maybe you immediately become angry and want to retaliate. Or perhaps your outward expression doesn’t change, but inside you begin quietly nursing bitterness. Although these reactions strike us as understandable and perfectly natural, they are not how God tells us to respond.
Unforgiveness is spiritually destructive because it is contrary to God’s will and affects our emotions, thoughts, prayers, and relationships. Scripture is clear that we are to forgive anyone who causes us harm, because we ourselves have been forgiven a much larger debt of sin by God. The grace He pours out on each of us should be our motivation to extend grace to others. If we have received His loving pardon, then we must do the same for others, even when it feels unfair.
Forgiveness involves a total change of attitude and action, whereby we give up resentment toward someone and relinquish a desire for revenge. In our own strength, this is impossible. But if, instead of rehearsing our hurts, we ask the Lord to change us and fill us with His Spirit, He will begin the process of transforming our heart.
“Jesus saw Nathanael coming to Him, and said of him, ‘Behold, an Israelite indeed, in whom there is no deceit!’” – John 1:47 NASB
Some people responded positively to Jesus, following without question. But Nathanael was different. After hearing Philip’s enthusiastic endorsement, we might expect him just to believe. Instead, Nathanael responded with a question because Jesus was from Nazareth (v. 46).
Jesus was not displeased. But, in fact, He praised him. No doubt, others felt this way about Nazareth, but only Nathanael was willing to speak up.
Jesus praised Nathanael for having no “deceit.” There was nothing deceptive, crafty, or sneaky about him. He didn’t just go along with the crowd but was willing to express his true feelings and ask meaningful questions. He was honest, sincere, and interested in the facts. In this spirit, Jesus had a personal encounter with Nathanael. In it, Nathanael was convinced. His reservations were clarified.
This demonstrates the importance God places on honesty. Some people disguise their true feelings, masking their concerns. But God values people who are honest like Nathanael.
Jesus expressed the same attitude when He told John He would rather that we be cold or hot than lukewarm (Revelation 3:15-16). He would rather have us express our concerns honestly than hide them. Don’t be afraid to ask Him questions rather than just going along with the crowd or harboring secret doubts.
Be bold enough to be honest with God. Reject hypocrisy and deceit. Care enough to investigate. Be sure what you believe; don’t just go along with the crowd.