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Posts Tagged ‘seeing through a glass darkly’

IMG_20191026_124546957‘Do you like rhubarb?’ our dear, old neighbour asked, as he pointed with a trembling hand to a small clump growing nearby. ‘My wife cooks it with apple. Please pick it, otherwise it’ll be wasted.’

That day, he had learnt his wife would need to be in a nursing home and unable to come back to their unit. For thirteen years, she has chosen to care for all the garden areas nearby, with the blessing of our village gardeners, and I remembered how carefully she had tended this precious rhubarb plant in the months it had taken to grow. Now, just as it can be harvested, she is unable to do so.

As he went on to explain that he and his wife would probably both move into a double unit in the nearby nursing home, I noticed how he wiped tears away. He was concerned about the cost and also about the fact that there might not be room for all their possessions.

‘I tried to clean out the garage the other day, but I didn’t get too far,’ he told us. ‘I don’t know what we’ll do with it all.’

We endeavoured to reassure him as best we could. Finding a double unit where they can be together is wonderful, we told him. After all, they have been married for well over sixty years. And their beautiful daughters and sons-in-law will sort out what to take and what to give away, as well as all the paperwork needing to be done.

We felt so sorry for him as he stood there, a frail, old gentleman who is not well himself. Eventually he left, assuring us he had more than enough at home for dinner. Then, feeling so guilty, I went to cut those rhubarb stalks. I cooked them up, along with some apple, then filled a little container for him to take to his wife in hospital. It was the least I could do for her.

As I did, I felt sad, but I also felt at peace for them. You see, they are both Salvation Army officers and beautiful, humble Christians. This time in their lives might be fraught with pain and difficulty, as they suffer ill-health and grieve over the loss of their independence, as well as their lovely unit and garden. But they know where they are going. They know Jesus Christ. They have known him for a very long time. And I know they look forward to the day when they will meet him face to face and be with him forever. I know too they would agree with the words of the Apostle Paul:

Now we see but a poor reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known. 1 Corinthians 13:12

Our lovely neighbours will get over this huge hump in their lives in God’s strength and they will keep on trusting, whatever happens. And one day, I am sure, ‘God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.’ (Revelation 7:17)

May we all carry such a hope in our hearts, as we live out our days here with our eyes fixed on the Lord, knowing this is not the end but only the beginning.

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It’s fun, isn’t it, waiting to meet someone you’ve met only via email? Will they look anything like you thought they would? Will they be younger or older? Will the personalities you suspect they have from the way they write be reflected in their faces?

Recently, I had the privilege of reading fifty pages written by three female authors before we met at a Writers’ Fair. They wrote in vastly different styles, which soon had me trying to picture what each of them might be like. Their personal emails gave me a bit more of a clue, but there was still plenty of scope for my imagination.

When we finally met, however, none of them was quite like I had imagined. One was very quiet and shy. Another was much more friendly and outgoing than I had expected. And the third seemed an interesting mixture of nervousness and self-confidence, but again nothing like I had imagined.

On the same weekend, I also met various other authors I had previously ‘known’ only via Facebook or blogs. What fun it was to be able to recognise them by their photos! Yet even then some tricked us. Some had changed their hairstyle, while others looked much younger than I had anticipated. And some were warm and outgoing, while others were a little more reticent.

With the authors whose writing had previously been sent to me, I did have some opportunity to get to know them as we worked together for one whole day. Yet despite that, I still knew so little about them and what they really felt about the various changes I had suggested for their work. As for my Facebook and blog ‘friends’, while we did work out who was who, we had little time to get to know them better. There is more substance to those photos I now see again on the net, but still so much to learn about each of them.

As I reflected on these experiences, I was reminded of a verse I had recently read in 1 Corinthians:

Now we see but a poor reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known. (13:12)

Right now, there is so much we fail to understand about this world and in particular about God. Yes, now we can know God through the Scriptures, through listening prayer, through our experiences, through other people, through observing nature – but all of this is still merely a mirror that is able to reflect only a part of the whole glory of who God is. One day, however, we will see the real thing. One day we will see God face to face – and be totally overwhelmed in the process.

Yet while we see only ‘through a glass darkly’, even now God knows us fully, Paul tells us. God does not have to wonder what we will look like or what our personalities will be like. God already knows us perfectly through and through, as Psalm 139:1 says. How wonderfully liberating and life-giving that is! I don’t have to pretend anything to God. I know I am loved and accepted and totally understood. God will not be surprised at anything about me or anything I do – it is all already known.

I loved meeting my author friends in the flesh for the very first time. But what a day it will be when I meet God face to face at last! Then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.

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