Poor Reflection

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“Now we see but a poor reflection as in a mirror. Then we shall see face to face.”

This verse is taken from 1 Corinthians 13, most known for its initial verses as the Love Chapter. It’s read at weddings and carries a romantic reputation within its words. However, this passage of Scripture came alive in a new way to me last night.

I have a new nephew. He’s only three months new, to be precise. He was born thousands of miles away from me, in Japan, yet I had the joy, privilege and honor of being with him in his third and fourth weeks of life. I held him, shushed him, sang to him, wrapped him and rocked him. I read Scripture to him and prayed over him. I told him that I was his and he was mine. I laughed at his tiny yawns and little noises, and cried at the mere thought of leaving him. As he began to trust me, he nestled his way not only into my arms but into my heart. We bonded deeply.

This Thanksgiving, as was the same for the past two, I was blessed with the chance to travel home to spent time with family and friends and in NJ. Of course, baby nephew was the talk of many conversations and I was able to show him off through the pixels of my phone’s screen.

We video chatted with him and his parents and I just about bursted watching him meet the friends and family I love dearly. I could sense them falling in love with him as well. He smiled and cooed at them. They “oogled” and “awwed” at him. It was magical and special. We could hear him and see him and interact with him and smile at him. It brought joy to my heart and wonder to my mind that a small piece of technology can span great distances across the earth. And yet, there was a sense of sadness in my heart because it was only a poor reflection of the real thing!

Screens cannot convey the warmth of human touch. They cannot accurately portray the three dimensions of reality. They cannot recreate the fullest sense of sights, smells, and intimacy as when sharing a moment with another person, face to face.

This is how it is with our relationship with Christ. We are able to hear Him, to interact with Him, and talk to Him. We can read all about Him in His Word. We can love Him and know Him and experience all of that in return, and it brings joy and relational intimacy. I know His voice and can feel His touch and He responds to my cries. I find wonder at His a Creation and marvel when He speaks to me in subtle impressions on my spirit. But, my friends, it is only a poor reflection of the real thing. Because of sin, we are separated from the fullness of relationship that God intended from the beginning.

And yet, in the midst of that sadness while talking to my nephew, there was hope. You see, he is coming home with his parents in a few short weeks from his birthplace of Japan. Soon, we all will be reunited over Christmas and the New Year! We will be together, sharing laughter and tears. We will be able to touch and hug and kiss one another. We will see each other face to face. We will experience the fullness of relationship in real time. Oh what joy that day will bring! The anticipation in all of our hearts is enough to fill an entire ocean!

And this is when it hit me. God the Father longs for us to be reunited with Him in the same way, but so much more. He is crazy in love with us and desires to be in right relationship with His Creation (us!). He sent Jesus, His Son, to take the punishment of sin on our behalf so that we can enjoy relationship with Him now on earth. We just have to let Him into our hearts and cultivate intimacy and love with our Perfect Father this side of eternity. If the glimpses of relationship with Him are this good, I can’t even imagine what the real thing will be like! There is more to come when we reach Heaven! On that Day, when He returns, we will be reunited and experience the fullness of relationship forever! We shall see face to face. And, one of the best parts is that we shall get to experience it all with our friends, family and loved ones who similarly believe in Jesus as their Savior. Oh, what joy THAT Day will bring!

In the meantime and until then, instead of letting the sadness of the dim reflection dominate my heart, I’m letting the anticipation and the hope of future reunions reign. And just as those little glimpses through my screen sustain my relationship with my nephew, the glimpses through prayer and the Bible sustain my relationship with my God. And it is good.

What are you anticipating this Christmas season?

“Now we see things imperfectly, like puzzling reflections in a mirror, but then we will see everything with perfect clarity. All that I know now is partial and incomplete, but then I will know everything completely, just as God now knows me completely. Three things will last forever—faith, hope, and love—and the greatest of these is love.” (‭1 Corinthians‬ ‭13‬:‭12-13‬ NLT)

give thanks now.

that’s not a demand.  its more a strong suggestion.

while i have already written a post about being thankful, that was a typical, thanksgiving-related entry.  my pastor in nj used to preach a similar message every third weekend in november, and his punch line was something along the lines of, “we should cultivate an attitude of thankfulness always.  it’s not thanksgiving, it’s thanks-living!”  i have heard it multiple times, yet only as i sat down to write this now, has it sunken in.

during this transition phase of my life, i have been reminiscing about my past.  i am reliving the memories of warm summers in ocean grove, monday night dinners with my sister, weekends spent lazily with my family, and the sweet familiarities of my oldest friends.  i’m also looking forward to my future, asking “what is it gonna be like when…?!” or, “i can’t wait until…”

but i got convicted this weekend.  in my homesickness and my desire to grab the remote from God’s hand and push rewind or fast forward, i am missing now.  i’ve done this same thing at least once before, when i was studying abroad in florence.  i don’t want to miss now because where i am is now.  so i am thankful for now.

don’t get too hung up on the past or daydream too vividly about the future that you miss the work that is happening all around you right now.  give thanks now!

“give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” -1 Thess 5:18