By Linda Rex
During my time pursuing my master’s degree with Grace Communion Seminary I was deeply impacted in my understanding of God and humanity and life itself through the instruction and counsel of my professors. I found theology to be quite fascinating, especially when it intersects with science. This is why reading T.F. Torrance’s books, though quite a challenging process, is something I enjoy doing.
One of my professors, Dr. John McKenna, gave an interesting workshop that brought together the science of light with the biblical revelation of light. I had known that the word light is often used in the Bible and many times in reference to God. But as we went through and talked about light and God and humanity and the creation in which we live, I began to “see” light in a new way.
One of my favorite traditional hymns talks about God and light. It is thought-provoking poetry that points to the glory of the God who is Light:
Immortal, invisible, God only wise,
In light inaccessible hid from our eyes,
Most blessed, most glorious, the Ancient of Days,
Almighty, victorious, thy great Name we praise.
Unresting, unhasting, and silent as light,
Nor wanting, nor wasting, thou rulest in might;
Thy justice like mountains high soaring above
Thy clouds which are fountains of goodness and love.
To all life thou givest, to both great and small;
In all life thou livest, the true life of all;
We blossom and flourish, like leaves on the tree,
Then wither and perish; but nought changeth thee.
Great Father of Glory, pure Father of Light,
Thine angels adore thee, all veiling their sight;
All praise we would render; O help us to see
‘Tis only the splendor of light hideth thee!
(Walter C. Smith, 1824-1908)
Light and life are inseparable. When my daughter and I visited Mammoth Cave earlier this year, we learned that there are creatures who live there in complete darkness. But they are unable to live in the light. And a person or animal that can see and live in the light will not be able to see at all when in that deep darkness. They may even lose their ability to see if they remain there for an extended length of time without some form of light to penetrate their eyes.
Without the light of the sun, we would not be able to exist or do much of what we consider necessary to life. Light is essential to our life. Just as we need the physical light of the sun to sustain our life, we also need the inner light of God to sustain us and give us both physical and spiritual life. Our life, our existence and being, are dependent upon the Father of Light and the Light of the world, his Son Jesus Christ. Light and life are inseparable.
Light itself is invisible. What we commonly see or experience is the refraction/reflection of light. Jesus described the Holy Spirit as the wind we cannot see but we experience the effects of all around us. In the same way, when we “look” at God, he is invisible. But he is Light. We experience the reality of God in everyday life in every part of our existence.
In Christ we have been freed from the chains of darkness and brought into his ‘marvelous light.’ What this means is that we have been brought out of the cave of darkness, evil and depravity and into the light of God’s love. It’s going to take a while to adjust. We have to learn new ways of thinking and doing life. We will find it much easier and more comfortable to run back into the darkness. It will seem a lot less painful and frustrating. It will seem to be the way of freedom. But true freedom is finding our life in the Light and allowing that Light to slowly and surely transform and heal us.
Holy Father of Light and Jesus, Light of the World, we praise you. Thank you for your gift of life and light. Grant us the grace to embrace your gift and to never cease to turn to you for the strength to hold tight to all you have given us. Thank you that it’s not all up to us. You hold us in your hands and shine your marvelous light upon us in unceasing love. We trust in you, Jesus, and in your healing love. Fill us the marvelous Light of your Holy Spirit. In your name we pray. Amen.
“All things came into being through him, and without him not one thing came into being. What has come into being in him was life, and the life was the light of all people. The light shines in the darkness, and darkness did not overcome it.” John 1:3–5 NIV
by Linda Rex
There are times in our lives when we may feel completely invisible. Everyone around us at work seems to receive the perks and we get nothing. All our friends have a significant other, but we don’t. Our life is falling apart and no one seems to notice or care. Perhaps we come to the holidays, like Valentine’s Day, and we wonder why we, once again, have to spend them alone and forgotten.
There are lots of opportunities in life to celebrate pity parties. It seems to be the nature of being human to have days when life just doesn’t seem to be worth living, when we feel forgotten and unnoticed by God and everyone else.
I am reminded of the story of Hagar. Hagar’s story begins with her being forcibly employed as a servant to Sarah, the wife of Abraham. When Sarah could not have a child, but Abraham had been promised to have an heir, Sarah decided to follow the customs of the time and have an heir through her maid Hagar.
Humanly, it seemed to be a great plan, but the plan quickly began to fall apart. Jealousy, anger, conceit—all the human weaknesses seemed to be involved in destroying the family unit. Sarah beat her and the frightened and pregnant Hagar fled into the wilderness. As she wept in the desert for herself and her precious son, an angel provided her with water and told her to go back to Sarah. God saw her and her son—God had an inheritance in mind for him—he saw the ones who were invisible.
This encounter with God profoundly impacted Hagar. Hagar was one of the few people in the Bible who gave God a name—‘the God who sees me’. She understood and appreciated the reality that God was not some ethereal concept or distant being in the sky. He wasn’t just some manifestation of human consciousness. The God who had intervened in her life was real, powerful, personal, and cared about her and had come to her in the midst of her suffering and isolation.
So what about you and me? It’s not every day that we see or experience manifestations of the divine. Life still falls apart around us while we do our best to hold it all together. Is there really a God who sees you and me? Or is that just another mythological story in a book? Is that just a nice fairy tale that’s designed to make us feel better about ourselves and the world we live in?
I suppose a person could give all types of explanations about why you should believe in a real and personal God. I can share the testimony of scripture, of the God who created you and me, and loved us so much that he came to be one of us, to live with us and die for us, and who rose from the grave. But it boils down to this—have you personally encountered the living God? Do you realize for yourself that you are not invisible to him? Have you experienced the reality that he sees you and loves you and wants a personal relationship with you?
Faith in the God who sees you in the midst of your invisibility begins with knowing that he is real, and that he rewards those who diligently seek him. (Heb. 11:6) God enjoys hide-and-seek, but he will not be found unless he chooses to be found. We often prefer God, if we want to believe he is real, to be a God who will show up and to do something for us, but we aren’t about to seek him out, much less let him tell us what to do.
God gave us a really big clue as to how to find him when he came to us in the person of Jesus Christ. Jesus is the exact representation of God’s being. (Heb. 1:3) He is God in a tangible human being—the God who sees us here among us as one of us. Jesus died and rose again, and the testimony of the church is that the Father sent through Jesus the gift of the presence of God in the Holy Spirit to those who would receive him. So you and I, as we seek God, have been offered the gift of God living in us by his Holy Spirit. The God who sees us now is the God who lives in us.
God sees you and he sees me. He became you and became me in that he took on our humanity in Jesus. And God lives in you and in me by his Holy Spirit. As we welcome his presence within us, we will begin to experience the reality of the living God as being more than just an idea or mythology. As we hear the inner voice of the Spirit guiding us, teaching us, and as we experience the Word of God in the Bible coming alive and real to us and beginning to transform us, we realize the unseen God is indeed the God who sees us, his beloved and cherished unseen ones. Life may still be hard, and we may still feel invisible, but when God abides in you and me, our lives are never the same. God may ask us to do the hard things, but we never do them alone—he is present in the midst of our invisibility—you and him, me and him, forever.
Dear God, thank you for making yourself real to us in your Son, Jesus Christ, and by your Holy Spirit. Thank you that we are not invisible to you, but really and truly treasured, cherished and understood. Make yourself real to us today—open our eyes to see you and our ears to hear you. Transform us by your grace. Holy God, may we bless and serve you forever, through Jesus’ name. Amen.
Then she called the name of the LORD who spoke to her, “You are a God who sees”; for she said, “Have I even remained alive here after seeing Him?” Gen 16:13