I was twenty-years-old and spending my first summer in Asia. The sub-tropical heat forced me indoors, so I retreated to my third floor room to spend solitary time before the Word of God and a singular, rotary fan.
All summer, a certain long-distance relationship had remained forefront in my mind. He was tall, dark and extremely cute, with a sense of humor that often caught me off-guard. Despite our happenstance first encounter on an airplane, we’d exchanged numbers and I’d seen him several times before this summer missions adventure.
He too was spending his summer overseas, with an assignment similar to mine, albeit in another country. His aerograms were filled with joy and depth, stories and Scripture, affection and interest. I’d heard him pray in person and now as I read his prayers put to pen, they only increased the growing interest I felt for this extraordinary young man.
As I listened to the oscillatory hum that afternoon, memories of childhood flooded my mind. Since my thirteenth birthday, I’d been praying for a future mate. Beginning with a request that he could wash dishes (since my dad did not), my requirements had grown over the years. Now, I included elements of prayer, Scripture, and leadership with this guy perfectly fitting the bill.
“Give Me this relationship,” came God’s Voice, so clearly I could almost hear Him audibly. Startled, I diverted my eyes to the open Bible on my lap. God spoke again in print.
“Take now… (the one) whom you love…and offer him there as an….offering” (Genesis 22:2).
I balked at such a request. “Wasn’t this exactly what I’d prayed for? Wasn’t this a relationship that could please God fully?”
“Give Me this relationship,” came the Reply.
I don’t know how long I hesitated. Nor how long I argued. The thought occurred to me that maybe I could just offer this to Him and He would stay my hand at the last minute — just like He had in Abraham’s case. But this, He did not do. As He continued to lead me up this mountain, it became crystal clear He wanted me to lay down the relationship. Finally and completely.
In an anguish of soul I hadn’t experienced to date, my prayer reached the appointed plateau. As an act of my will, I placed this relationship before the Lord and felt it severed from my soul. Sobbing and exhausted with internal distress, I lay him before the Lord.
Then, in a radiance whose memory still causes my heart to pulse, I saw the Lord. With brilliance of Light and glow of Presence, He lifted me into His rest. Splendor so filled my heart that any lack of the previous moment vanished amidst His fulness. Like sinking into a warm whirlpool on a frigid day, my entire being was immersed in His bathing Light. Resplendent, nourishing, invigorating, strengthening, His Light absorbed every dark place, gleaming without glaring. Diamond-brilliant without blinding.
His Light was worth it all. His Grandiose Presence was far better than my granulated present. None else could compare. I gazed with wide-open spiritual eyes at His Remarkable Countenance, realizing that in the very glimpse of Glory I was being transformed. He was crystal, transparent, flawless, brilliant, incorruptible….yes, indescribable. I bowed awe-struck and speechless, and to this day remain unable to fully describe His glory.
What is your well-loved Isaac? What do you need to lay before Him?
He asks for your gift
in order to give Him room
to fill you to overflowing.
Praise You that You are Light and in You there is no darkness at all (1 John 1:5). You are not afraid of the dark and go boldly into darkness so that Your radiance shines there (John 1:5). As I stand in Your Light, I clearly see the dark places still residing within me (Psalm 36:9). Send out Your Light and Your Truth to lead me into further Light (Psalm 43:3). I want to focus on Your remarkable Countenance with wide-opened eyes, so as to be filled with Your Glory (2 Corinthians 3:18). Enlighten the eyes of my heart to truly know You (Ephesians 1:18). In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
For two full years, I worked in the dark. Hours were flexible, but the job itself had to be performed without light. Today, we call it old-school. Then, it was the only way to produce black and white photos. Chemicals, wash, paper – all were sensitive to light, but needed darkness to develop.
Accompanying me in the room was a massive enlarger, especially suited to shine intense light through the negative and onto the paper. Even after the glossy page was exposed to light, change wasn’t immediate. Each print must go through a sequence of baths in order to draw forth the image. Developer, stop bath, fixer — each in order, each for a specific amount of time, according to the print itself.
Developing the image. How powerful the similarities. We’ve been “predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son” (Romans 8:29), but like my darkroom experience, our resemblance includes a process.
Christ is the “the image of the invisible God” through which God’s Light must pass in order to imprint His image upon us (1 John 1:5; Colossians 1:15). Although salvation itself occurs in a moment, developing His image takes renewal into “a true knowledge according to the image of the One who created” us (Colossians 3:10). And God has designed this renewal to be a lifetime process.
We’ve come into contact with Christ, but the image is yet imperfect — merely a dim blur of what we will one day be. But the Apostle John gives us hope. “It has not appeared as yet what we shall be. We know that, when He appears, we shall be like Him, because we shall see Him just as He is” (1 John 3:2). Hallelujah, we do not have to wait until eternity to see His image, but as we fix our eyes upon Jesus “we all, with unveiled face, (can behold) as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, and are being transformed into (His) same image” (2 Corinthians 3:18).
Granted, “now we see in a mirror dimly”, but one day our vision will be spiritually 20/20 (1 Corinthians 13:12). I, for one, want to continue the practice of seeing Light despite the darkness all around me. Let’s not lose heart, but keep looking “not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen” — into the very image of Christ Himself (2 Corinthians 4:16a; 18). After all, “God is light and in Him is no darkness at all” (1 John 1:5).