I was almost finished with my run. For the last half mile I was thinking of my son, Andrew. Painful memories surfaced from the devastation of cancer and what it stole from him. From us. A familiar lump rose in my throat and tears gathered in the corners of my eyes – the companions of the grieving.
Most every time I run, I hear God speak. Sometimes we have a bit of a conversation. Other times, He reminds me of His faithfulness in the past and assures me of the same for the future. I’ve marveled at the ways He reveals Himself and His truths. His holiness intersecting my lowliness – running, sweating, panting.
Yesterday as I neared the end of a three mile run in the park in blazing heat and humidity, I stopped short when I saw this pattern on the pavement.
The tree branches overhead formed patterns of light and dark on my path – like God’s grace in our shadowed seasons. I raised my arm to swipe at my dripping forehead, preparing to continue my run. I felt a slight movement in the air and a breeze stirred the leaves. I stayed. Clearly, He wasn’t finished here. Truth rushed in among the light play at my feet and the branches above.
The light is God’s glory – His glory in Heaven, on Earth and over all. “God is light and in Him is no darkness at all.” The shadows of our lives provide for the contrast, for if there were no shadows, the glory would be blinding. For now our ability to fully see is hindered…“for now we see in a mirror dimly…”
We see God’s glory on earth as His grace – the patterns of light among the shadows. But one day, “then face to face…” we will stand in the full light of His magnificent glory.
Until that time, we “…know in part…” as He chooses to unveil and reveal His glory–His grace–on the paths we run. We see Him and we stop. We hear Him and we linger. For we long to know…as we also are known.
“For now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part, but then I shall know even as I also am known” (1 Corinthians 13:12).
In scripture we see God’s grace and His glory intimately linked. In the Old Testament, “glory” is portrayed as a heaviness, weightiness and manifest presence of God among His people. However, in the New Testament, “glory” is a reference to brightness, brilliance and splendor.
In the book of Ephesians Paul writes that God has “blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ…to the praise of the glory of His grace by which He made us accepted in the beloved” (Ephesians 1:3-6, NKJV.
And in Romans, Paul writes, “Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom also we have access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God. And not only that, but we also glory in tribulations, knowing that tribulation produces perseverance; and perseverance, character; and character, hope” (Romans 5:1-4, NKJV).
Peter writes, “And, after you have suffered for a little while, the God of all grace who called you to his eternal glory in Christ will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you” (1 Peter 5:10, NET).
I lingered under the branches of the tree and breathed deeply of grace – not just grace in grief but grace for life, grace for the glorious love of a holy God who overwhelms and overshadows my lowliness. My sweating, my panting, my running and running and running…
His grace calls me onward, upward, heavenward, home. Home, to stand in the full light of His glory, where shadows have no place.
“Grace is but glory begun and glory is but grace perfected.” – Jonathan Edwards