I’m presently staying with my good friend, Iain at The Glass House in Racine, Wisconsin on the banks of Lake Michigan, doing some intentional reading, praying, thinking and journalling.
As Iain and I were chatting last night I was reminded of a time some years ago when Sam and I went to stay with him in a small house he was renting in Paris. The house had once been a garage and was in a pleasant suburban district, a few miles from the city centre. The front of the property was no longer a garage door but a large piece of one-way mirrored glass. So passers-by walking on the pavement outside walked past a large mirror, not knowing that on the other side was the house bathroom, with the bath placed right up against the outside wall. That meant you could lay in the bath, or stand in the shower and look out at people walking only a foot or so from you on the other side of the glass. You could see them, but they couldn’t see you. It was a very strange experience – made all the more interesting when one morning I was in there brushing my teeth and a man stopped and turned, and adjusted his tie in the mirror. It felt like he was looking directly at me, but he had no idea I was there!
That strange but true Parisian bathroom reminds me that there is much in life that is unseen. But the fact that it’s unseen doesn’t meant it’s not there. It’s just unseen.
I suppose the wind is like that. If you think about it, we don’t ever see the wind. We can sometimes feel it and even hear it – like I did last night, as a storm was brewing over Lake Michigan. We often see evidence of the wind blowing, but we don’t see it. Nevertheless it’s there. It is unseen, but present.
Scientists tell us there are all sorts of microscopic creatures in this world which can’t be seen with the human eye. They are in the soil and in the sea, and even in our beds! They are unseen, but present.
Angels are like that. Most of the time they go unseen. But that doesn’t mean they’re unreal or not present. It’s just that we don’t normally see them. They are unseen, but present.
Similarly we don’t usually see the presence of God with our human eyes. But that doesn’t mean he’s unreal or not present. Sometimes we see evidence of his presence, especially in changed lives and answered prayers. He might give us dreams and visions which speak to us and encourage us. But normally we do not see him. He is unseen, but present.
Heaven is the same. It’s a real place. It is the true home of God and those who love him. But we don’t see it. Not yet. Not until we leave this life. It is unseen, but present.
That’s why St Paul, when reflecting on heaven in 2 Corinthians 4:18 writes:
So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.
This is about focus. About vision. About perspective. Because despite all the good in the world, there are things around that discourage us and that might even cause us to lose heart. It may be that you are disillusioned with the economy or with politics. Perhaps you’ve lost your job or things in your family are difficult. Maybe you’re ill or getting old and your body is feeling worn out. In the midst of all that, God wants you to trust him each day – for yourself and for this world that he deeply loves. But that’s not always easy when life is hard. That’s why we need to focus on him, and allow the wind of his Spirit, and the support of his angels to envision us. For the Lord has not forgotten about you, and is not neglecting you. Never forget that. He may be unseen, but he is very present.