So we do not lose heart. Even though our outer nature is wasting away, our inner nature is being renewed day by day. For this slight momentary affliction is preparing us for an eternal weight of glory beyond all measure, because we look not at what can be seen but at what cannot be seen; for what can be seen is temporary, but what cannot be seen is eternal.
This reading recalls quotations from three minds greater than mine, so I can do little better than lay them before you.
The first is from Solomon, looking back on his life and concluding that all his fabulous wealth, power, learning and pleasure are meaningless, a mere “chasing after the wind”. Then, where is real meaning to be found? Solomon recognises an inner longing for what he cannot quite grasp, a longing so often masked by temporal shadows of eternal truths. God, he says, has “set eternity in the human heart” (Ecc 3:11).
Augustine describes that same heart-hunger: “Thou hast formed us for Thyself, and our hearts are restless till they find rest in Thee.” (Augustine, Confessions, Book 1) – the disquiet of perceiving a ‘beyond’, but being unable to reach it. Yet.
C. S. Lewis writes in ‘The Weight of Glory’ that our preoccupation with this world is “making mud pies in a slum because [we] cannot imagine … a holiday at the sea.” We catch hints occasionally, but that elusive pure beauty, joy, fulfilment is not in the sunset or music or friendship, but perceived though them. Our hearts are straining for “the scent of a flower we have not found, the echo of a tune we have not heard, news from a country we have never yet visited.”
We are presently beyond the borders of our real country, on the wrong side of a door half open. Through the crack we may glimpse peace, honour, truth, and all other good things, but we cannot be those things we see. And yet, says Lewis, “all the leaves of the New Testament are rustling with the rumour that it will not always be so. Some day, God willing, we shall get in.”
God of glory, guide our eyes to see beyond what can be seen, guide our hands to work as good and faithful servants, guide our feet towards our eternal home, that we may perceive, amid the present shadows, our true home with you, in eternal light and glory. Amen
Fay Rowland, graduate student of Wesley House, Cambridge, worshipping at Christ the King, Northants
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