I watched the sunrise this morning. It was gorgeous — the sun’s light reflecting off of the clouds in various hues, birds soaring in the air, trees swaying in the gentle breeze, a warm cup of coffee in my hands. It was one of those moments when heaven and earth seemed to overlap and the thin veil between the two dimensions of God’s creation grew transparent.
What astounded me in that moment is that even in its broken state — marred with the ugliness of sin and groaning for its liberation — this creation is filled with such grandeur and beauty. And I was honored to see it, if only for a moment.
It made me think that one day, I will stand, together with my wife, children, friends and the rest of God’s family in God’s renewed world. And with our own renewed eyes, we will gaze upon a freshly restored world where heaven and earth will be completely married and one with each other and flooded with the grandeur of God. And with renewed bodies and minds, we will take on new endeavors that will fully reflect God into this world.
This made me think about a line from 1 Corinthians 13:12, “Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.” On that day, we will see and know fully as we are fully known. We will gaze upon the new heavens and the new earth and know God fully, know each other fully, know creation fully, and even know ourselves fully. And that mode of knowing will be love.
I shall know fully even as I am fully known. How am I known? I am known by the God who is love. And even though I understand those words, I can barely fathom their meaning. The only thing I can relate it to is that moment that virtually every parent has experienced. It’s the moment when you go to check on your sleeping child. There he lays in his bed. And in that moment, no matter what has happened earlier, everything is flushed away by deep and tender love. As you gaze upon your sleeping child, the memories of the past and the dreams of the future converge with the present. You transcend something and somehow you love and know that child more fully than before. Then the mists return and the world becomes hazy again. But you are left with the distinct sense that you have touched and been touched by something deep, rich and mysterious, both otherworldly and still of this world.
Perhaps, in that moment you have tapped ever so slightly into how God knows us and all he has created. It is a knowing that is fully love and a love that fully knows. And one day, we too will know and love fully. And this world will breathe a cosmic sigh of relief knowing it is once again in safe hands.
The world is charged with the grandeur of God.
It will flame out, like shining from shook foil;
It gathers to a greatness, like the ooze of oil
Crushed. Why do men then now not reck his rod?
Generations have trod, have trod, have trod;
And all is seared with trade; bleared, smeared with toil;
And wears man’s smudge and shares man’s smell: the soil
Is bare now, nor can foot feel, being shod.
And for all this, nature is never spent;
There lives the dearest freshness deep down things;
And though the last lights off the black West went
Oh, morning, at the brown brink eastward, springs—
Because the Holy Ghost over the bent
World broods with warm breast and with ah! bright wings.
Gerard Manley Hopkins