Have you ever been driving home from work when the sun is setting and you manage to catch a glimpse of it in a break in the trees? You can see the blue sky above you beginning to give way to those beautiful colors, everything has that awesome golden glow from the low sun. You drive a bit further and the sunset is obstructed by trees, and houses, or buildings, but then there it is again! A break in the buildings showed you another quick look at it and you just know it's going to be a good one. Finally, maybe the highway goes through a rural area where the land is flat and farmed or you've driven around a corner and are now driving straight into it, but there..there it is. Everything is bathed in golden light; the sun is a warm bright reddish- orange, just beginning to sink in to the earth. The sky, which at this point makes you understand why it's called the heavens, is red, pink, purple, orange, yellow and blue. How is it possible that this same sky, that brings rain, and storms, and tornadoes can also bring this breath taking display of beauty? It makes you want to pull over and sit on the hood of your car and just soak in the warm gold covering the earth.
At the church I recently began attending, we are just finishing up a study of Luke that started about two years ago. Today, the pastor talked about the very last paragraph, The Ascension of Christ. I have always wondered why Christ chose to go back up into heaven (not that I blame Him) and how the disciples felt about him leaving, so I was pleased to find this was the topic of the teaching. Essentially, Jesus was taken back up into heaven so that we could be closer to him because with him in his physical body on Earth, he could only be with the people who shared his geographical location. But, because he was taken back into heaven into his rightful position as the King, he was able to send the Holy Spirit who continued to do his work in those who loved him. The beauty of Jesus' absence, is that it made way for his deep spiritual presence. He didn't leave as I previously felt and thought, he did the opposite and became more available. It says in Luke 50-53, "When he led them out to the edge of Bethany, he lifted up his hands and blessed them. While he was blessing them, he left them and was taken up into heaven. Then they worshiped him, and returned to Jerusalem with great joy. And they stayed continually at the temple, praising God." What struck me about this passage was that when Jesus leaves, no one grieves. Instead, they are completely filled with joy. The pastor teaching today talked about this and said it was because for the first time, the disciples were seeing Jesus for who he really was. The preparation, the teaching, everything was over. The man who was to be the Son of God had come, did everything he said he would do and more, and now they watched him ascend to heaven. It's like they spent all that time during their walk with him catching glimpses of who Jesus said he was, only to lose the view. Then, they finally turned a corner and broke out of the buildings and there he was, in all of his glorious display, Jesus. Exactly who he always said he was going to be but now,their eyes and hearts were completely open and he was blessing them. I bet the moment Jesus rose up felt like they had spent all day in a blazing sun. They knew that when the day was over and the sun set, they would have relief. It takes so long, but when the sun finally begins to fall and the sky transforms nobody remembers how uncomfortable the sun was. All they can do is stop, look at the beauty, and be joyful in the moment.
I feel like this is kind of how my walk with Jesus is. Not that I've had the honor of having my eyes fully opened to exactly who He is but more in the glimpses part. I go through life and things are good, but then I catch a glimpse and a whole new realm of 'good' is found. I walk through life and things are tough, times when no matter how hard I try, I can't get my footing, and even if I could I wouldn't know what to do with it. But then, inevitably -because God's promise to us is true- I catch a glimpse and the struggles grow dim in the light of his hope. I find my footing and even though I still probably don't know what to do with it, I take the next step with a renewed confidence, a joyful heart and know that I'm on his path.
Living life between the glimpses can be hard. When times are good I think we find we lean more on our own understanding and think that we know what were doing, so by the time we catch a glimpse, we've gotten so far off track talking about all our blessings on Facebook, we realize that without the glimpse we would have soon found ourselves lost. And, in the hard times, we can get so beaten down with anxiety, debt, and struggle that we lose hope that we may ever catch another glimpse at all. These times are when we pray for direction and when a glimpse is everything we need, (I know I've had such low times where I would feel like I caught a glimpse purely because my debit card wasn't rejected). The fact is, is that no matter where we are in our lives or what season we're going/suffering through, He's there. He will always show up and give us a glimpse to give us direction, or hope, or those amazing blessings at the perfect time that not only renews our hearts, but gives us enough insight to keep going.