“To genuinely love another person is to see the face of God.” – Victor Hugo
“In my deepest wound I saw your glory, and it dazzled me.” – Augustine of Hippo
If the above quotes are true, then I saw God’s face, and His glory, last week.
A priceless part of my annual sabbatical has been the practice of going to Houston and moving in with my friend and mentor for a few days of going with him where he goes, joining him in what he does.
Jim is one of the few people I know, perhaps the only one, who has a life where something like this is possible.
And while many people I know have lives that are worthwhile, none but Jim have one with whom I would do this.
Because every single moment spent with Jim is spent with people. Further, these people are with Jim in order to discover how to “take the mask off,” discard it, and excavate Christ who resides within them.
And I get invited to join.
Join what, you may ask? The experience of truth community, inexhaustible grace, and rock bottom introspection. The experience of hope in life after death, and just as powerful, in life after wounds (emphasis on the word experience).
I get to parachute in and engage with folks who I have parachuted in on before and reunite around our shared desire for life, and I get to meet some brand new folks who have joined in on the journey. And here is the kicker – even though I am a stranger or infrequent visitor to them – I am welcomed in.
All the way in. I am welcomed in to the messiness and woundedness of their lives, and at a level that demands the messiness and woundedness of mine. I am loved, outrageously, and I am called to love, outrageously.
And right there… in that space… I see the face of God in them, and the glory of God in me.
You can probably tell that I’m struggling to find words to describe this experience. I can do no better than the ones I list below. These words describe what I saw, what I experienced, and what I appreciated most, from the moment I stepped off the plane to the one where I stepped back on:
Dad, Anne, Jake & Heather, Jim, Kate, Jeff & Stacy & Jace, Bruce, Teresa, Chad & Liz, John, Jason, Kathy, Pam, George, Taffy, Michelle, Renay, Laura, Mary, Karuna, Carly, Sue, Wayne, Braveheart, Taylor, Jeffrey, Don, Joe, Jason, Kevin & Amanda, Loren, Sarai, Ryan, Kathy, Aaron, Jennifer, Blake, and JT. And then bonus! More time with Dad, followed by a day of bliss with Ashley, Drew, Jackson, Grayson, and Andy. And then bonus of bonuses, it was all capped off by Kacy.
I saw the face of God. I saw His glory.
It was an experience of life and it required nothing and everything of me. Just as Jesus told me it would when he said that to find my life, I must lose it.
As I sit here closing this out, thinking of who and what Jim is to me, desiring to replicate the same kind of life, community, and fruit that he does, I received this blessing from a friend who really works hard to “see me” – and I finish this piece with it to honor who Jim is to me, and as a proclamation of love for the world that this is what I want to be in it and towards it. (And thank you, GM. You fuel my spirit)…
“’The hero is one who kindles a great light in the world, who sets up blazing torches in the dark streets of life for men to see by. The saint is the man who walks through the dark paths of the world, himself a light.’ Therefore, Brian, you sir are a hero and a saint.”