Last Sunday, as we sang the closing hymn, “Immortal, Invisible, God only Wise”, I was struck by the deep truth of one line. “All laud we would render, O help us to see: ’Tis only the splendor of light hideth Thee.” In other, less eloquent, words, we are often blind to God’s presence not because He isn’t there but because there is so much of Him to see.
I have needed some help seeing lately. I am, for the time being, closing a major chapter in my life. The kids are all—yes all—heading off to school next year leaving me a bit at a loss. The four people have consumed most of my waking hours for over a decade are moving on. I am so excited for them, though I will confess to a small part of me that can’t wait for them to realize that school outside of the home isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. Every time they complained about this assignment or that, inwardly I chuckled at the harsh realities of early morning wake up calls and homework assignments that I knew were waiting for them.
As much as I have reveled in this knowledge, I now find myself facing my own realities, harsh and otherwise. Just as my kids have idealized recess and school lunches, I fear I have been guilty of idealizing “alone time.” All those afternoons of hauling four, often unwilling, companions through the grocery store left me dreaming of what it would be like to stroll unaccompanied through the aisles. All those interrupted phone calls and exasperatedly uttered “just-a-minute”s left me dreaming of speaking whole sentences uninhibited.
But now that the time is fast approaching when all my dreams will be made reality, I find myself panicking a bit with regard to what happens next. For more than a decade now, my time has had such defined structure and purpose. And that’s where the seeing comes in.
I am feeling pretty blind right now, in the dark fumbling towards the unknown. What last Sunday’s hymn reminded me of was that while I may not be able to see God’s hand guiding me, it isn’t because they aren’t there. It isn’t even because He is invisible, despite the title of the song. It is actually because He is too visible. He is so present that I take his presence for granted. It is a forest-for-the-trees kind of thing.
It is God’s hand that woke me up this morning, that made these thoughts possible. He is in the air conditioning I am currently enjoying, the breaths I am currently breathing, the sun that is shining, the world that is spinning. It isn’t His refusal to make Himself known that blinds me but rather my refusal to look for Him.
So this is my plan as I walk into the unplanned months ahead: to look for His splendor and praise Him for it, whatever I see.