Thursday, October 7, 2010

Through a Glass Darkly

One of my favorite Scripture verses has long been 1 Corinthians 13:12. It reads thus in the English Standard Version:

For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known.
However, I have always much preferred the familiar King James translation of this verse:

For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known.
Yesterday's Daily Reflection written by Mark Roberts of the Higher Calling discussed this verse and revealed some deeply intriguing thoughts about this verse. Roberts writes,

The original language could be translated, "For now we see through a mirror in a riddle." The Greek word ainigma stands behind the word "riddle" or "cloudy." Ainigma is the basis of the English word enigma, and it refers in Greek to something puzzling or unclear. The point is that our knowledge of all things, especially of God, is not complete or clear.
Roberts also notes that mirrors in the time of the Apostles were much different than the mirrors we have now. Our mirrors of today usually return a perfect reflection (unless someone has spattered toothpaste water from the bathroom sink on them). But the mirrors of two thousand years ago were made from buffed and shined metal which presented a distorted and unclear image, often barely recognizable. An enigma. A riddle. A puzzle.

And that's how we see God now. Our human sin distorts our vision, blurring and confusing the way we see God, ourselves, and our world. It's a puzzle, an enigma, that we can't work out this side of heaven, no matter how hard we try.

You see, not knowing something kills me. I want to know it all. And I want to know it now. And the simple fact is that I can't know everything during my life on earth. I can cram my head with facts day and night. I can read every book I can get my hands on. I can write Pulitzer-winning essays. I can publish multiple poetry collections. I can seek out the wisest Christians and question them exhaustively.

But even with stuffing all of this knowledge into my brain, I'll never know more than an atom of what God knows. Knowing it all is an impossible task. Oh, some men and women have been brilliant: Galileo, Newton, Shakespeare, Churchill, Madame Curie, Einstein, ... I could go on. But even they, the best and the brightest that humanity has and can offer, still see through this same glass darkly. Life is still as blurry and as confusing and as indecipherable to them as it is to me.

BUT...on the other side of heaven, we will meet our Creator, our Father, our Beloved One face to face.

I will face Him. He will face me. And this way, face to face, I will come to know. To truly know. In fact, I will know everything just as clearly and distinctly and truly as He knows me.

After all, He is the author of humanity. He spoke, and humanity became real. He breathed Spirit into our spirit, and we took our first breath of the air He made for us, tasted the food He created for us, touched the animals He thought into being for us, walked this land and drank this water that He designed for us.

He knows us. In fact, He knows us so intimately and loves us so if there were only one of us to know, one of us to love.

And that's how WE will know. In the words of the English Standard Version translation,

Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known. (Emphasis mine)
I am not just "known"; I am "fully known." And so are you. And so are all of us.

What a heady concept!

And, even more incredible: I will also know just as fully, know just as completely.

This verse grants me so much hope. For when I am frustrated, unable to understand why God allows Darfur and school shootings and starvation, I reach for the assurance of this verse. Somehow knowing that one day I will know the why's and wherefore's of this crazy life, full of suffering and pain and joy and tears, makes it a little more bearable.

Because there's HOPE.

The hope of understanding. And the hope of eternity with Him.

It's nothing I do. It's all what He has done. And somehow, the God and Father of our Lord Christ opens His arms wide, welcoming all humanity, and promises us that we will know, even as we are fully known right now...this very second in time.

And He opens His heart wide...and welcomes us HOME.

All thanks be to God.

A mere pilgrim on the path to knowing,


Deidra said...

I often forget how fuzzy that mirror is. I try to clean it, and un-smear it, and windex off my fingerprints. And the flip side is that I also forget just how clearly God sees me.

Susanne Barrett said...

I love your imagery here, Deidra. Yes, all the Windex in the world cannot un-fuzzy this mirror, this "glass darkly." Only the Brightness of Heaven can clarify all. And He will.

Thanks so much for sharing your thoughts here, Deidra. :)


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