In October a news report came out concerning a small Norwegian town, deeply tucked between steep mountains, that is stuck in shadowy darkness for six months of the year. In order to bring more light into town they installed mirrors - yes, mirrors - on a nearby hillside to reflect the sun into town. You can read more here.
Though it is an imperfect analogy, I was struck by how similar this is to how we often view following Jesus. My experience with my own heart, and that of many others, is that we often live in a place much like this Norwegian village – a shadowy place between the mountains of belief and unbelief. God is faithful; God is not faithful. God is working all things for my good; God is mean and capricious. God loves me; God is punishing me. God is deeply involved; God is nowhere to be found. I can bank my life on God’s Word; I can’t trust the Bible.
Yes, we recognize our need for Jesus. Yes, we see reflections of him at work in our life. We might even make the trek to the middle of town to get our dose of Jesus (see photo above). But, for the most, we go about our lives among the shadows of unbelief and, from time to time, catch a reflection of Jesus’ goodness here and there. Our lives are marked more by the shadows rather than the light of Jesus, “who is the radiance of the glory of God”. (Heb 1:3)
Now, don’t get me wrong. Who cannot identify with the cry, “I believe; help my unbelief!”? (Mk9:24) Without question, now “we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face.” (1 Cor 13:12) Verses like these attest to the fact that there will always be shadows of unbelief in our lives. But, we can get too comfortable with our shadows and see them as a normal part of our life when there is nothing normal about them. Jesus is normal; the shadows are abnormal.
Let’s not be content with living in that shadowy place where we only catch glimpses of Jesus here or there. This is why the Apostle prayed the following for the church at Ephesus (and us):
For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named, that according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith—that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God. (Eph 3:14-19)
Our lives don’t need to be primarily marked by living among the shadows of unbelief with the occasional reflection of Jesus. Let’s move out of that proverbial Norwegian village into the light. We can trust him. He does forgive. He does adopt. He does redeem. He does rescue. He is good. He is gracious. He is loving. He is in control. He is real. He is alive. He is ruling and reigning. He is unfolding a story we will be talking about forever – literally. Only in his light will we truly see and truly change. “And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed from one degree of glory to another.” (2Cor3:18)