Saturday, October 23, 2010

I See the Moon

When I was little, my parents would sing a slightly modified nursery rhyme:
I see the moon; the moon sees me;
     the moon sees somebody I’d like to see.
God bless the moon; God bless me;
     God bless the somebody I’d like to see.

It seems to me that God above
     created you for me to love.
He picked you out from all the rest
     because He knew I’d love you best.
As I started having children of my own, I’d sing this song to them, and my guess is that they will pass this on to their children.

Romantics have often gazed into the night sky and looked upon the beauty of the moon, inspired with thoughts of love. But the first time I was truly struck the moon’s radiance, was at Disney World. As the day at Disney came to a close, the customary end-of-the-day fireworks started exploding over the castle. Now the folks at Disney put on a good show, and the fireworks are part of the package, done with complete excellence. But as the lights and noise drew the attention of the crowd, the Lord spoke to me and prompted me to turn around and look in the opposite direction.

There, in the clear night sky, the full moon, without pomp or circumstance, glowed in the blackness, the same as it has done for ages. I realized in that moment that I was ruined by the contrast. The beauty in the sky, crafted by the hand of God, eclipsed the best that man had to offer. From that moment onward, fireworks lost any appeal to me so much so that the noise and smoke can become an annoying, smelly cacophony, remembering that a greater, ageless beauty exists.

The beauty of God can have that same effect on us. We are changed by the knowledge of His beauty, and as we gaze on His beauty all substitutes lose their appeal. But God is much more like the sun than the moon. The more we gaze upon Him, the more His light reveals the inferiority of all other things. His light brings out the beauty and the truth in all His creation, and our eyes are sometimes drawn to the created beauty over the Source of Beauty. How often do we choose to gaze upon the reflections of His goodness, the gifts that He freely provides, and consequently let these substitutes overshadow His love, and light, and beauty? We can even start to believe that the goodness in us is part of our make-up rather a gift from God. But if you think about it, we are a little more like the moon.

The moon has no light of its own to share with the world. It simply reflects the light of the sun, which brings life to the world. So when we spend time in the presence of God, like the moon gazing upon the sun, we start to reflect His beauty to the world. Scripture tells us: “We love because He first loved us.” (1 John 4:19) His love fills us and is reflected back to the world as reminder that the light exists and will return, no matter how dark the present moment seems to be. Like the moon, if we allow the world to come between us and the Source of Light, we become darker, reflecting His love ever less. Yet even on the darkest night, when no light is reflected on the moon, the sun is still there, and even in our darkest moments, God is present, powerful and acting in our lives, pulling us back toward Him.

We are imperfect reflections of His light, sometimes shining in full brilliance, and other times aching for the sunlight that once warmed us. But as we look for Him, we start to see a small glimpse of His radiance, and a sliver of His light reflects from our countenance to the world that is longing to see light. The more we seek Him, the brighter we become; the more dedicated our gaze, the brighter we become. The world, in its ignorance, may think we are a light source, but we acknowledge in full humility that we are just poor reflections of His beauty, His love reflecting from us.

But the analogy breaks down when we consider the moon’s orbit and how it is compelled to repeat the ebb and flow of its phases. Unlike the moon, which cycles through the monthly phases, we are capable of embracing His presence all the time, both resting and walking in His Presence.

I don’t think I’m alone in the fact that I can let the lesser lights capture my gaze, but even in the darkest moment, when I feel oh so dark, cold and alone as a result of my infatuation with the world, I also believe that my God can be found again. That there is no place I can ever go that is beyond His hand, to pull me out of darkness and into His loving presence, and even to be warmed to the point of glowing. So I seek the Lord while He may be found, in the present moment, and with His help I am capable of loving, truly loving others, simply because I know His love for me.

The church was never meant to compel the world by force or persuasion into the Kingdom. Rather, the Kingdom comes naturally as we allow His rule to reign in our lives: our hearts, our minds and souls. No other ingredient is required.

copyright ©2010 Mitchell Malloy (