“For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.” Isaiah 55:9
I used to have dreams about the past, haunting dreams. They were often about people who had died, a dear friend, a grandfather sorely missed, a student taken too soon. Many were made up of an attempt on my part to alter my own regrets with that person or relationship. Then, I would wake. In the stillness of the night a longing would sweep over me, wishing for time to unwind itself so that I could claw my way back and right those wrongs, spare us all from pain only to find I’m bound by the fact that I live in the now. Time constricts us all. It grips around us in the changing length of our shadows, the new wrinkles around our eyes, or the scrolling of past years’ memories. It is silent in its passing, but I feel the weight of it.
With time comes the sorrow of death, but also the twinkle of life. Such a contrast can leave us reeling with its uncertainty. This past week, three friends have given birth, and too, a family member suddenly passed. When I talk to anyone, a point of mutal agreement is that last few years have felt like a decade as we have all experience loss, panic, anxiety, and uncertainty.
This got me thinking…
Have you ever seen the Sistine Chapel? Like really actually have seen it? Painted in the latter years of Michelangelo’s life while the artist teetered at the heights on scaffolding, paint dripping into his eyes, he painstakingly applied each brushstroke to imprint a lasting impression of eternity. The Creation of Adam is a great wonder to behold. Or, so I hear. I’ve been told that unless you have been there, you aren’t experiencing the whole of it.
One day, I hope to step through those doors and soak in the splendor of that great artist’s masterpiece. Until then, I am limited to images either printed in old art history textbooks from college or on the internet. I can see in part, but not the whole. As with any digital image, if you zoom in far enough, it eventually becomes a pixelated mosaic of dark squares and lighter squares. Yet, when you zoom back out, the image registers in our minds as something of note. The same is true with our lives. Our limited perspective leads us to see things in a way that often neglect the larger picture.
So what is that larger picture? It is so much larger… so much greater…
He who stands outside of time. He who waits, ever present in our past, and already facing our tomorrow, orchestrating ever single atom into the workings of the greatest masterpiece of all. This whole world we experience will end up bringing glory to him, through Christ, the Word in flesh who created all things as He hovered at the age’s dawning. When all we see is a dark pixel, God has positioned a white pixel beside it to bring forth the magnitude of His glory in the contrast. That contrast is what makes the image come into focus and without it, there would be no masterpiece. That contrast in life and death. In mercy and wrath. All for His glory.
So, we trust that God in all of His holiness will work the darkness in our seemingly insignificant lives into the glory of His masterpiece. Until then, we wait. We wait expectant of when we are able to stand with Him in eternity unbound by the shackles of time. Until then, we can stand in awe of the God who binds our lives together for His glory at every sunrise and sunset, at every birth and covered grave.
May that faith give you hope.