Scraps of it, here and there, found by those who are scouring the landscape for the echoes of him, the murmurings of a creation being renewed by him.
Scraps of it, but less than was dreamed, was prophesied. A glory whispered long ago, yet somehow reality less than this. Light refracted in all directions by broken shards, so rare the life which mirrors more uninterruptedly glory on to the broken creation around. Is this always his way, broken glory?
Thirteen years ago, even seven years ago, I was innocent. I believed the promises without trouble. When he called me to make disciples, to lead a church, I knew he was calling me to something more beautiful than I could know. And I received it with joy. I saw glory, the glory of lives being transformed by the power of his Spirit, of lives being conformed to the image of the Son. And though I knew less of the gospel than I do now, I believed in its power to bring glory to and through those who were the pinnacle of his creation.
But now my heart is older. Innocence has been tempered by experience. I have trusted in his glory to change me and yet so little has changed. All around me, I have seen lives long ago brought under the lordship of Jesus yet still less whole than you would ever have thought possible. Refracted shards only, that’s all I’ve seen.
My heart has broken over and over as I have watched many whom I respected losing their way, choosing the safer option. And I have seen marriages fail over and over, or simply limping on without hope. Children going off the rails despite parents’ best efforts. Many anaesthetising their pain with more and more work. I have seen those whom I loved relegate Christian community to a place after family, after work, after leisure activities. I have seen some leave community because community was too hard and conflict too great. I have seen older ones who started bright losing their edge and walking away from the hard stuff and I have seen younger ones who have become lost in the morass of babies, marriage, work and house-buying. I have seen my own weaknesses, how easily I am discouraged and long to turn back, how little the glory of Christ shines in my life.
Refracted shards only, that’s all I’ve seen. And not just once. Over and over in only five years of this life. This life which innocence received with joy when he called thirteen years ago.
And so I ask those who are older, wiser: Is this always his way, broken glory?
Is this always his way, dreams not brought to pass, promises not fulfilled…that in his better plan we might receive them only together with those who come after us that we might be made perfect? Is this always his way, that some will stumble, some will not see? Or having seen will close their eyes again? Is this always his way until we see him face to face, until his church is made pure and spotless, without blemish?
Is this always his way, broken glory? Or do I need simple patience, the turning of the years into something beautiful? Will I see before creation’s new day the restoration of those for whom I have wept, the church I strain towards? Standing, should I still fight to fashion a new reality, a community of discipleship like it says in the Book? Should I keep pushing with faith against the brokenness, in the waiting perseverance which knows that bending the glory back to him takes time, or should I quietly cede, admitting that this task was too great for me?
Will I see it the way he promised or is this always his way, refracted shards only, broken glory until he comes again?