"Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, will award to me on that day - not only to me, but also to all who have longed for His appearing." 2 Timothy 4:8
I know that when Paul wrote the above to his son in the faith, Timothy, he was speaking directly to the appearing of Christ when in the fullness of His Kingdom, we shall see Him in all His wonder and glory. We will see Him, as His Word says, "just as He is." Yet I believe Paul also points throughout His letters to a longing for His appearing in the day to day events of life, and it is my experience, and I hope yours as well, that He does that.....gloriously, miraculously, and many times, very quietly. He has appeared to me in all of those ways throughout my walk with Him. The other night, He appeared in all three as He ministered through me to lead my dying brother into His life and kingdom. As I prayed with my brother, I "saw" in his voice and response, the very face of Christ. It was glorious. It was miraculous. It was quiet. It was Him. How much does He long to appear to us in all of these ways in all of the events, good and bad, wonderful and sorrowful, abundance or lack? Do we long for His appearing to us as much as He longs for us to see Him?
On Sunday afternoon, just two days after that appearing, I He appeared again, as my sister called to tell me that my brother, given no chance at any kind of recovery by his medical team, was at that moment sitting up in bed, and breathing without aid, and had been doing so for nearly an hour. Darkness. Light. He appears in both, for darkness is never darkness to Him, and this world brightest light pales in comparison to Him. I don't know where He will take my brother, my family, and myself in all of this, but I know He will not cease to "appear" to us throughout all of it.
I read a quote from Mother Teresa sometime back where she said, "I have learned to see the face of Christ in the faces of the people who oppose me, persecute me, despise me." How would our lives change, if we could do the same? Not only in dealing with difficult, even hateful people, but in the whole spectrum of life events? What would our lives become if, in the darkest, most turbulent storm, we saw Him? The book of Exodus relates how Moses entered into "the deep darkness where God was." Only a man who expected to encounter His God there would willingly do so. Would we? Would we be willing to walk through the most desolate desert, the most dangerous wilderness, the most devastating storm, because we knew He was there, and would appear to the eyes of our heart? We would know that we would hear His words, "Be at peace. Don't be afraid. It is I." We would know all that because there is within our hearts an ever deepening longing for His appearing....in every place and condition of our lives. There is a longing for His appearing, and He will minister to that longing. The world spirit, finding itself in my brothers hospital room that night would have no expectation of this. Hopelessness and despair is all it can expect. Yet, in my deep longing for Him to come to my brother in this time, He did. In glory, in miracle, in quietness. He continues to come to him....and to me, and to you as well. Do we see Him?
I close with one thought. Our longing for Him to appear to us I believe is matched by His longing to appear in and through us. Everywhere around us are people longing for His appearing, whether they are aware of it or not. To what degree can He appear to them through us? May He, in every time and place, be able to do so......gloriously, miraculously, quietly, continually......completely.