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(Old) God’s Glory

(Originally posted on June 7, 2011)

So, I’m going to be posting some about my trip. I won’t go into a lot of detail about the place, but I think you guys would enjoy hearing some of the stories.

God’s glory is a concept I’m only just beginning to understand. All my life, when someone used that phrase in a prayer or at the pulpit, I’d inwardly roll my eyes. For me, “God’s glory” was a stamp people used on their speeches to make themselves sound spiritual. “We need to raise money for this church so that with a new building we can further show God’s glory,” etc.

But in the last few months, God’s glory has taken a new meaning for me. I was lying awake in what many people would consider a desperately dark country, and I was thinking about God’s glory, and I finally began to define what it has come to mean.

God’s glory is like a string. It is attached to something physical, something I can touch and smell and feel, and when I touch and smell and feel this string it leads me from the physical and into the eternal. The string lifts my eyes and my heart praises God, and that is when God’s glory is revealed to me.

When I walked through a graveyard of foreigners who had given their lives in a country not their own, my eyes were constantly drawn to the trees in the graveyard. The leaves of the trees were bright green as the morning sun shone through them, so that they glowed with a youth and beauty that made me smile. But I smiled not just because the leaves before my eyes were beautiful. I smiled because the beauty of the leaves reminded me that God provides. Even in a graveyard there is beauty. In the middle of a country in the middle of a war there is a walled graveyard and it has beautiful trees and the trees have vividly, unashamedly green leaves. And that feels like a touch of eternity.

One day I went to a gathering of women, where they were being taught about the basics of health hygiene. We were in a mud house, and the room had one window for light. I felt sick and weak that morning, and though I tried not to show it the women noticed. The woman of the house, a widow, left for a little while. She returned with naan—the traditional flatbread of the people—in her hands. She held it out to me, and I tore a warm piece off. An old, toothless woman sitting across from me told me that they give naan to the traveler, to the sick, because naan brings strength. I felt so physically miserable that I didn’t realize until much later that the widow had baked the naan for me, because she had noticed I was so sick. I see God’s glory when I think of the widow’s gift to me, when she had so little. I feel God’s glory when I think of the warmth of the bread in my hands, and I think of the bread of life, and I think how the naan was meant to heal me, and the eternal healing that comes with Christ.

On another day, I found myself in a room with Mom, a friend and a woman coworker. The woman was sobbing as we surrounded her in prayer. I could see the marks on her neck that looked like a rope burn. She brokenly told us—in a language I couldn’t understand—about the abuse of her husband, about her fears and her broken heart. We prayed and prayed over her, choked up and broken for her. As we drew back a little, I looked at our friend’s hands, which had been grasped tightly around the abused woman’s. The backs of our friend’s hands were shining with tears, and I didn’t know if they had been the woman’s tears or our friend’s tears. I see the glory of God in those tears, as His heart grieves deeply for this woman who does not know Him. I see the heart of God in our friend, who felt for this woman’s pain so much that their tears were the same.

God’s glory is not an excuse, not a tagline to be written under a campaign title. But it isn’t a mystical, vague concept either. God’s glory is all around us. I hope that He continues to help my eyes open so that I can witness it.

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