There’s a church not far from our Roanoke office that, from one vantage point, looks like it’s tucked at the bottom of Bent Mountain, and heading down 221 South it looks like a painting. I can’t get a picture that comes close to capturing it. Sometimes I drive out of my way to see the view.
Of course, there are stop lights and strip malls, a little traffic and some boring office buildings. But you forget about those things when you see the towering, expansive ridge up over and around the white steeple and red bricks.
There’s one time, though, when you get to see none of that. Sometimes the mountains are entirely covered by mist and fog. So you just see the stop lights and strip malls, the church, the school. You’re just on any old suburban road. The beauty and glory is hidden.
A lot of life is like that. Things are cloudy. Maybe it’s not all darkness, but it’s not bright. It can hit you in many ways. Raising kids, working a job, loving your neighbor–all these things are acts of great dignity and glory, but they don’t always feel glorious. Sometimes all the good parts of life feel obscured. There’s even a medicalized name for not getting any satisfaction from things you used to be able to enjoy: anhedonia.
But you don’t have to have that complete sense of the loss of all the joy and glory of life to sometimes just feel like it’s far away, to feel like the glory and wonder of life is obscured.
Living life without the old addiction is like that. Nothing feels very good. Abstinence, in itself, doesn’t bring many feelings of joy in the short-term. Other things feel this way – continuing to work on a marriage without much hope, eating normally after an eating disorder, or chipping away at massive financial debts. Every day is a foggy day.
These kinds of situations remind me of a verse I read recently, where the prophet Elisha prays for a people who have no hope and have great fears for their future. The look out ahead of them and see nothing good, no glory.
“‘Open his eyes, Lord, so that he may see.’ Then the Lord opened the servant’s eyes, and he looked and saw the hills full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha” (2 Kings 16:17).
God answered Elisha’s prayer, and gave the fearful servant a glimpse of the unseen world, a world usually hidden from him, a world of glory and grandeur, where, despite appearances, God was still on the throne. There was an invisible army supporting a small, fearful, and hopeless people.
Seeing through the veil made it clear: though it might be through many tribulations, the kingdom would come. In some mysterious way, in the end, all must be well. The sun would shine again, the mist would clear, and there would be good things, there would be glory in full view.