Looking Along the Light
Written by Mike Creamer, Director of Youth Ministries at Sewickley Presbyterian Church
The reason I speak to them in parables is that ‘seeing they do not perceive, and hearing they do not listen, nor do they understand.’
With them indeed is fulfilled the prophecy of Isaiah that says: ‘You will indeed listen, but never understand, and you will indeed look, but never perceive.
For this people’s heart has grown dull, and their ears are hard of hearing, and they have shut their eyes; so that they might not look with their eyes, and listen with their ears, and understand with their heart and turn—and I would heal them.’
But blessed are your eyes, for they see, and your ears, for they hear.
Truly I tell you, many prophets and righteous people longed to see what you see, but did not see it, and to hear what you hear, but did not hear it. (Matthew13:13-17)
God is present in the world around us, but the question is if we see Him. Sometimes we think that God is boxed up and limited to a few specific places and activities, as if the stone walls of our church building were in some way God's domain. It's understandable--we view all of life this way. During Covid it's been tough for a lot of people to treat their homes as their workplace, school zone, and place to relax. We like to designate things with specific purposes. "I do this here. I do that there." Maybe it's the way we speak in specific groups of people, or the kind of clothes we wear in certain places, or even the way we approach God in different places. But I believe that God is present everywhere, and that the Christian life is about learning to change our way of seeing. It's about learning to hear His voice in the everyday moments, and to find Him in all that we do. But this isn't natural. We have to learn to do this.
C.S. Lewis wrote a brief essay once called Meditations in a Toolshed where he describes this spiritual epiphany he had in a totally ordinary moment. "I was standing today in my dark toolshed. The sun was shining outside and through the roof and there came a sunbeam. From where I stood, that sunbeam with the specks of dust floating in it was the most striking thing. Everything else was almost pitch black. I was seeing the beam of light, but not seeing things by it. But then I moved so that the beam was on my eyes. Instantly, the whole previous picture vanished. I no longer saw the toolshed or beam of light. Instead, I saw green leaves moving on the branches of the tree outside and beyond that, 90 million miles away, the sun. Looking at the beam, and looking along the beam are very different experiences."
Now, as you can imagine, I recommend reading the entire essay when you have a moment. But this idea of "looking along the beam" is what the Christian life seem to be what our Christian life is all about. Looking at the sunbeam is important. Describing God and the Christian faith is one thing. But stepping into it and looking along it changes everything. When we begin to see with new eyes... when we begin to look along the light... when we stop being spectators and begin being participants... reality changes. When we look along the light we see the world outside of the toolshed. When we look along the light it changes how we see the world around us, and most importantly the people around us.
Some people will never be able to stop looking at the light beam. Describing it is enough for them. But what Jesus made clear in the New Testament is that this simply won't do. Looking at the light and stepping in and looking along it are different commitments. There were plenty of people who heard Jesus speak, and saw Him live, and did not truly see or hear it.
Today, don't look at the light. Look along the light. Look for the ways in which you can see your day, all of the normal and mundane and difficult things, with new eyes. Look for how reality might be different knowing God is present in it. Does nature look different? Does family? A cup of coffee? An overcast sky? Traffic? The truth is it all can point us toward God if we have eyes to see and ears to hear.