Daily Devotion 13 April 2021

Create a peaceful space to pause, and allow yourself to feel God’s presence alongside you, as near to you as your own breath. In following the reflection below, as a church we will draw closer to God and to one another as we grow in faith and deepen our sense of belonging to God.

Proverbs 3:5-6 ‘Believing and Seeing’

5 Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not rely on your own insight.
6 In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.

As a young man I lived for a short time in Cleethorpes. Whilst cycling along the promenade early one morning I saw what I believed to be a kangaroo hopping through the adjacent gardens. I called in at a nearby police station and reported my sighting. The police gave me the knowing look of those who were used to ‘time wasters’, no doubt believing my story to be the aberration of someone getting over a ‘night on the town’…as if!

In Chapter 20 of John’s Gospel, we have the disciples, minus Thomas, being aware of Christ’s presence with them post Easter. Later, ‘doubting Thomas’ has the same experience. John, (aware that that his readers were living many years after the Christ event) then gives us these words of Christ. “Because you have seen me you have believed, blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.” Likewise, Hebrews 11:1 gives us this thought: “Faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see”. Even the ancient composer of Proverbs seems to echo this understanding of the priority of faith, trust and belief over insight (seeing). Elsewhere, John presents Jesus saying to his disciples: “If you have seen me you have seen the Father” (John 14:9) – a statement which presupposes that first of all we must believe that what we see in the words and actions of Jesus are authentic and worthy of praise.

We know the saying ‘seeing is believing’ – yet Christ seems to turn this around. It is as if he is saying to Thomas and the other disciples ‘believing is seeing’ – ‘seeing’ with the eyes of faith. So how might we understand this? If we believe the creative spirit of Christ is alive in our world, then we will see it in the altruism of selfless practical compassion. If we acknowledge the different dimensions of profound love it will not be difficult to discover meaning and depth in everyday situations that point beyond the superficial to ‘the things that are eternal’. If we trust the promise of life arising out of death-like experiences (the Easter message) we will see the evidence of this time and time again. Believing really can be ‘seeing’, perceiving, ‘in-sight-full’!

Yet seeing can also lead to believing. How do our neighbours see us as a church and more significantly us as followers of Jesus? Do our words and actions match up with our beliefs? Do what others see in us correspond with the life of Christ? Does our lifestyle advertise the Christian way? Hopefully many times it will and if and when we fail in this high calling, we know that forgiveness impels us to learn again what it means to be a modern disciple of Jesus.

If those Cleethorpes police had known and believed me to be an honest truth-teller as opposed to a suspected foolish, fantasising, fabricator of falsehoods, they might just have believed my account, without like Thomas needing to see the evidence for themselves. Later that same day the local television news reported that a wallaby (not a kangaroo) had escaped from Cleethorpes Zoo and had been recaptured… with the help of the police!!

Prayer:

Lord, in our believing help us to ‘see’ as with the eyes of faith.
In our ‘seeing’ help us to recognise Jesus and his ‘good news’ at work.
May our lives help others to see and believe. Amen.

Reflection & Prayer © 2021 Gordon Harrison.
Image freely available online.

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