How can we see God, when He is unseen?
God is always about His work of salvation, and reveals His plans and purposes to those who are His and who seek Him.
While I was writing this the news included Dame Louise Casey, the former Homelessness Commissioner warning that some families face being made destitute by the loss of income and opportunity from the pandemic. The backdrop to this was stricter ‘tier’ restrictions, mainly in the most economically vulnerable areas — and this kind of pattern being replicated across Europe with hospital admissions rising sharply.
How do we see God working?
Where is God in this? Or perhaps a better question, how do we SEE God working, as we cry out to Him with whatever grain of faith we have?
Business strategists have a phrase which describes a way to make sense of confusing detail — the ‘helicopter view’. From ground level, where we can’t see a way through the maze, imagine taking a helicopter flight to look at it from 1,000 feet above. A high-level perspective reveals the picture of the whole, integrating the confusing and competing parts, and it gives a clarity missing from the close-up view.
God has both the big picture perspective — on an eternal timescale rather than our short-term thinking — and the close-up definition to see right inside every individual part. We can’t do that, but we can seek to join Him and allow ourselves to be informed by His far superior wisdom.
What is a pure heart?
Jesus said that those whose hearts are pure can see Him. What is a pure heart? It’s having no mixed motives, being free of selfish ambition or personal agenda, willingly submitted to God and in right-standing with Him.
And what does it mean to see God, who is spirit (John 4:24, 1 John 4:12) and therefore by definition unseen? In the OT, giants of faith like Moses and Elijah were terrified at the prospect of seeing God — Elijah, when he encountered God on Mount Horeb, wrapped his face in his cloak.
“When your heart is pure… your eyes will open to see more and more of God” is how the Passion Translation renders this. More and more of God’s glory — and more and more of God’s working, much of which is mysterious and beyond human understanding.
How the Spirit expands our short-sighted view
This side of heaven, what we see of God will be limited and what we understand of Him and His working will be a restricted, myopic view. But set alongside that, here are two particular enabling Scriptures. One is the spiritual gift of wisdom, listed by Paul in 1 Corinthians 12:7-11 alongside knowledge, faith etc.
“To one is given through the Spirit a message of wisdom, to another a message of knowledge by the same Spirit, to another faith…” 1 Cor. 12:8-9
If the word, or message, of knowledge is something revealed by God’s Spirit, the message of wisdom is what to do with that revealed knowledge — in other words, how God is working in that person or situation and how we work with Him.
Then there is the important promise in James’ letter:
“When you face trials…if any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you. But when you ask, you must believe and not doubt…” James 1: 3, 5-6.
It is a straightforward condition that we need to be single-minded about listening to and following God. If we are listening to all kinds of voices, the opinions of the media and and the prejudices of others, this is not the “pure heart” that will see God. But if we get our focus on Him through worship and separation from the world’s noise, we are putting ourselves in a good position for Him to give us a spiritual ‘helicopter view’.
• How will you go about listening to God and asking Him to show you something ahbout Himself and His working in this present situation?
• Who will you share this with?