«For now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part, but then I shall know just as I also am known» (1 Corinthians 13:12).
I was on a domestic flight in Argentina, sitting with two other women in a row of three seats. The woman who was in the aisle seat (I was in the middle) passed her cell phone to the woman in the window seat and asked her to take a picture of the sunset, which looked so beautiful from up there. She had tried to take the picture herself, but it was hard from where she was sitting.
Very kindly, the woman snapped the picture and handed the cell phone back to its owner. That made me think about the second-hand—or thirdhand—relationship we sometimes have with Jesus. It’s good to listen to sermons by different preachers, read books of spiritual reflections or theological studies, and ask people to pray for us. But unfortunately all of that means that we are not going directly to the Fountain of Life ourselves. We fail to drink personally from the Word of God, seek His listening ear, or bask in His perfect evenings…
The young lady in the aisle seat could see in the picture what the person in the window seat had been watching with her own eyes. Do we sometimes settle for this sort of second-hand experience as well?
When my family moved to the United States, we arrived at the beginning of winter. We weren’t used to cold temperatures or snow, and we hadn’t brought very warm clothes with us in our suitcases. Since we had very little money, someone suggested to us that we shop at a store with used clothing. The clothes there are often in good condition with little wear, though you can’t always find everything you need. The prices were very low, so we bought gloves, scarves, hats, and warm clothes for church. We were very grateful for being able to buy these second-hand clothes, but I will never forget the day my sister handed me a package she had lovingly wrapped. It was a brand-new jacket that I could never have bought for myself.
It is true: we can find second-hand experiences and second-hand clothes that are of very good quality. But our Father loves us too much to want us to settle for anything less than what He can and wants to give us, if only we will come to Him directly.
Though we now see dimly, as through a mirror, it is also true that we can see many things more clearly if we go to Him.