Chapter 1: Seeing Beyond the Dark Glass

For I Know

Music plays quietly. Some people occupy their waiting with whispered conversations. Some just want to be silent. A few are there out of duty. For others it’s loyalty. Most are there simply for the family. Farewell my love. Goodbye dear friend.

Sadness, loss, pain, indifference and hope. A whole range of emotions quarantined together. The music stops. The vicar speaks, “Stand.”

As voices sing, eyes watch the reality of death being carried. As the coffin is rested how many stop singing or listening and wrestle with the thought ‘is this it? How many Christians, about their own faith ask, “Am I right?”

At a funeral, more than any other perhaps, is the time we might most wonder about the incredible claim of Christianity that this is not the end and we will be awoken from death’s slumber. Perhaps, more than any other time, it is now that our nose gets pressed against the dark glass. At a time of someone’s death, more than at any other, our vision can be dimmed. We long to see beyond the glass but everything human in us makes it hard to look at anything other than what we see here and now.

If you’ve been there, you’re not alone. A group of people in a sun-soaked city in a country now a very popular holiday spot were asked:

 “…how can you stand there and say there is no such thing as the resurrection of the dead?” 1 Cor. 15:12 Voice

The country is Greece, the city is Corinth and the people are worrying. They too couldn’t see beyond the physical. Paul doesn’t pull his punches:

“…if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile…If only for this life we have hope in Christ, we are of all people most to be pitied.” 1Cor.15: 17 & 19.

Yet, what has Paul already said earlier to these people, which carries such impact in these words?

Well it’s this phrase “...he appeared...”  v7

If seeing is believing then this is the clincher. Paul is saying this is no send up, wind up or mickey take. Historical fact, eyewitness intel all confirm the risen Jesus appeared to lots of people and I’ve actually spoken with some of them and heard it for myself.

Let me ask, do you wear your spectacles? You know that free pair you were given when you answered the door knock and asked Jesus to come in?

A couple sit down on two comfortable seats to have their lunch. “It’s nice to get the weight off your feet,” says the wife. “Have you got a cheese one?” asks the man. As they tuck into their sandwiches, the floor below their feet drops, a restraining harness comes down and they accelerate away, sandwiches in mouths, on a world record looping, white knuckle, water splash, rollercoaster ride.  The slogan at the end of the ad: ‘Should have gone to Specsavers!’

How about you? Are your specs on the end of your nose letting you see all God has given you to see?

For I know.
When God states these words to Jeremiah there is no uncertainty. For I know. God announces, affirms, and assures he is in charge. Before the beginning of time, God knew. In Jeremiah’s time, God knew. In sending Jesus, God knew. In your circumstance now, God knows and things will happen as he intends.

 “Surely, as I have planned, so it will be.” Isaiah 14:24

We’ll always have plenty of wild ideas ourselves for the best option, sometimes we may even have slowed God’s better way for us because of our impulse to take over but, in the end, God will win the day.

“Many are the plans in a person’s heart,
 but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails.”  Proverbs 19.21

Two angels  stopped to spend the night in the home of a wealthy family? The family was rude and refused to let the angels stay in the mansion's guest room. Instead, the angels were given a small space in the cold basement. As they made their bed on the hard floor, the older angel saw a hole in the wall and repaired it. When the younger angel asked “Why?” the older angel replied, "Things aren't always what they seem." The next night, the pair came to rest at the house of a very poor, but very hospitable, farmer and his wife. After sharing what little food they had, the couple let the angels sleep in their bed so they could have a good night's rest.
When the sun came up the next morning, the angels found the farmer and his wife in tears. Their only cow, whose milk had been their sole income, lay dead in the field. The younger angel was infuriated and asked the older angel, ‘How could you have let this happen? The first man had everything, yet you helped him!" she accused. "The second family had little but was willing to share everything and you let the cow die.”
"Things aren't always what they seem," the older angel replied. "When we stayed in the basement of the mansion, I noticed there was gold stored in that hole in the wall. Since the owner was so obsessed with greed and unwilling to share his good fortune, I sealed the wall so he wouldn't find it.” Then last night as we slept, the angel of death came for the farmer’s wife. I gave him the cow instead. Things aren't always what they seem."

Sometimes when things don’t turn out the way it seems it should, we’ve put those spectacles down, can’t find them, can’t see and start asking ‘why can’t your plans be the same as mine Lord?’

But God says, “For I know”

There are so many things in the world we don't know, can’t get the hang of it or see the big picture. We want to get a handle on it but all handles seem to have been sold out. That's when faith comes in. That’s when you trust the one who says, For I know.

How often do you look at the world through the eyes of faith? Does the ‘I’m only human’ part of you keep forgetting to put your specs on or maybe you’ve never even had a pair? The writer of Hebrews sees better than 20/20 when he says:

 “Faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see”
Hebrews 11:1

I mean, how about that for hawk like peepers! Eyes that see beyond what is immediately in the here and now. It all seems so much easier when you’re writing about it or reading it, doesn’t it? But it takes practice; we have to grow into it.

The picture we’re given about being ‘born again' (John 3:3) isn’t just for hanging above the fireplace and dusting it from time to time. It is the foundation stone to start a lifetime of learning how to look, the first brick in building your understanding of how to see.  I wonder if the disciples started by having faith in Jesus before they developed the faith of Jesus? They grew in faith over time. We all begin by taking tentative, tiny steps before we can take bigger more confident strides.

Have you ever looked at one of those 'Magic Eye" hidden 3D images? To the untrained eye they look at first like a flat mass of colour, pieces of modern art that don’t seem to make a lot of sense. But once you’ve learned how to look into the image you get the ‘wow’ factor.

The person next to you can’t see anything. On the surface all they see is colour and confusion, tones and turmoil.  Once you learn to look beyond what seems like a meaningless, repetitive landscape, a new world opens up before you.   Beautiful figures appear, a butterfly or the earth with planets around it. What has seemed to be senseless, chaotic and repetitive becomes a world with meaning, order and purpose. Wonderful colours and a peek into another dimension you didn’t know was there before you learned how to look. When you learn to see, a world that is beyond your imagination opens up.

The Bible reminds us that we can see God in the here and now:

 “Open your eyes and there it is! By taking a long and thoughtful look at what God has created, people have always been able to see what their eyes as such can’t see…”  
Romans 1.20 MSG

This poem tells us that God is often showing us how near he is and, walking in faith, growing in trust are the lenses that help us see through the dark glass:

The man whispered, "God, speak to me"
And a meadowlark sang.
But the man did not hear.

So the man yelled, "God, speak to me"
And the thunder rolled across the sky.
But the man did not listen. The man looked around and said,

"God let me see you."
And a star shined brightly.
But the man did not see.

And the man shouted, "God show me a miracle." And a life was born.
But the man did not notice.

So, the man cried out in despair, "Touch me God, and let me know you are here."
Whereupon, God reached down and touched the man.
But the man brushed the butterfly away and walked on.

Don't miss out on a blessing because it isn't packaged the way that you expect.

Eyes of faith allow us to see God’s fingerprint even within the limits of human understanding. God shows us things all the time but our eyes don’t always see properly. We haven’t learned or we’ve stopped using the skill to see with faithful understanding. 

Back in church, the service is over and as you step outside a butterfly lands on your sleeve - a few months ago it had the body of a caterpillar. Do you see beyond the dark glass? As you walk back to the car park, in front of you is a colourful blanket of flowers - a few months earlier they were just seeds buried in the ground. Do you see beyond the dark glass? As mourners left the hill on Calvary did they see beyond the dark glass?

The deepest conviction of the Christian is to know that Jesus is right. Faith may involve certain beliefs. Faith may be about a future hope. But, in the end, faith is about trusting a person. Trust Jesus in your daily life and you won’t have to worry about faith.

For I know.
God firmly reassures us with these words.  No problem, no worries, no fears because, I know and faith is the gift that allows us to say back to God “Absolutely!”

from Laughter in the Rain