I remember sitting across from my doctor, thinking about all the bananas I’d been eating the last few months—one nearly every day. I simply thought I’d discovered a new favorite snack. But it turns out my potassium levels were very low, and one of my medications was depleting it even further, to an almost dangerous level. All of this was happening inside while I was blissfully unaware because God made sure I craved a potassium-rich food to protect my body from danger. That moment in my doctor’s office left an impression on me, and ever since, I’ve felt confident in not only the wisdom of God’s creation but also His absolute control.
Glimpses like this, over the course of my life, have gradually been blending together to form a picture of God. Always small glances, never a complete view. It’s how He has presented Himself for ages—in a burning bush to Moses (Ex. 3:2), a pillar of cloud to the Israelites (Ex. 13:22), the temple-filling train of His robe to Isaiah (Isa. 6:1). He once told Moses, “You cannot see My face, for mankind shall not see Me and live!” (Ex. 33:20). Gathering glimpses is the way we experience His glory on earth.
You’d think this dynamic would put distance between us and our Creator, but intimacy with Him doesn’t depend on a comprehensive understanding of all He is. In fact, just several verses before God tells Moses no living person could see His face, Scripture says, “The Lord used to speak to Moses face to face, just as a man speaks to his friend” (Ex. 33:11). Here the phrase face to face is meant figuratively, describing the openness and trust of their relationship. The fullness of the God of the universe may not be perceivable, yet He remains close to us. As close to me as my own body, sitting there with my doctor—His protection and care as palpable and sweet as ripened fruit.
The fullness of the God of the universe may not be perceivable, yet He remains close to us.
In his sermon titled “Knowing God,” Dr. Stanley asks, “If the only thing other people know about God is what they see of God demonstrated in your daily life, how much do others know about God?” When answering this question, it’s important to remember how we experience the Lord. We sometimes take verses like Matthew 5:16—“Your light must shine before people in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven”—to mean we are responsible for displaying the entirety of Jesus to those around us. But if on this side of heaven, where it’s possible to see only God’s back or hear His whisper, what exactly are we to reflect? What if mere glimpses of God and His character are all that we’re called to display?
It’s tempting to see this way of thinking as settling, or even as doubting what God can do through one person. But when I think about the moments when I’ve witnessed His mercy or gentleness or forgiveness, they don’t feel small at all. In fact, when others have given me glimpses of who God is, it has been monumental, heavenly, and utterly priceless. The truth is, we’ll never reflect the fullness of God to the people in our life—only Jesus can do that. But as long as we live, we have permission to follow in the Lord’s footsteps, revealing pieces of His character along the way.