Now you see it – Now you don’t. What do you suppose is going on? – magic? illusion? mind tricks? Or is it what happened when you forgot the dog was watching the cheese tray as you left the room?
How about this one: “Now you can’t see it – One day you will.” What do you suppose that’s about?
Narrators of Old Testament stories know more what’s going on than the story characters. They tell us what God lets them know. But God never shares all. Not even Jesus is privy to the Father’s timetable on the world’s end. Paul said we know partially now. We see into a mirror darkly, hazy – but one day, we’ll know all – clear. Now you can’t see it – but one day you will. Hang on – trust – have hope and faith.
Samuel’s been sent to anoint a new king. Problem is – Israel still has its first one. King Saul is getting dumped for keeping a closer eye on his approval ratings and other’s opinions of him than God’s approval. Samuel is less than thrilled with a new assignment. If Saul finds out, he’ll kill him. So God says: “Take a cow and say you’re here to make a sacrifice to me with Jesse and his boys.” Jewish elders meet Samuel at the “Welcome to Bethlehem” sign. They’re uneasy. Why would Samuel, the kingmaker, come to their hayseed town? To make a sacrifice – sure, right. Samuel fails to mention he’s there for a coronation, too.
Jesse trots out his boys, one by one. The first one is tall, strong – good king material. Samuel thinks: “Surely this one.” God tells Samuel, “No way. You mortals look only on the surface. I look into the heart.” Seven boys pass by Samuel, and none measures up to God’s standards. Is there another son? Is Jesse hiding one, or does God have the wrong address? One more – the youngest is shepherding sheep on the far side. When David appears, our narrator gets carried away with his appearance – ruddy, good eyes, beautiful, you know mortal near-sightedness. God tells Samuel – “That’s the one,” the heart, remember Sam? Sam pours the oil. Israel has two kings – now they don’t see. One day they will.
God is working both above and beyond, and within among the earthly realm. Often we are too busy to notice, focused instead on what we see, touch, desire and control – our fears, anxieties. Have we not all had moments when we think, “Something’s going on here, I don’t see?” You say something that makes sense – and you wonder, “Where did that come from?” Some say it’s serendipity, synchronicity, “the stars line up my way,” good luck – or bad luck; “I always draw the short straw;” “the gods are against me.” Who knows really? Is it God’s unseen moves? Sometimes what we thought was bad, turns out to be good, or good turns bad. You apply for a job you desperately want, you get the call – you’re hired, only to find you end up in a nightmare.
Anyone planted a garden this year? How does a planted seed know to become a plant? Why do big bushes grow from tiny, tiny seeds? More goes than meets the eye.
Why does God choose David to be a major patriarch of salvation history? David certainly has flaws and will show them. Did God miss something on David’s EKG? That Bathsheba thing – you’d think God would reject David. Abraham, Isaac, Rebekah, Esau and Jacob, Joseph, and Rahab (look her up) – none of these are church pillars – yet God chooses and uses them, flaws and all. They’re even Jesus’ ancestors. Something is going on here that is greater than what we see or judge. If these folks are pressed into God’s service, anyone can be eligible. God can use us, too, whether we will be help or hindrance, working through us and sometimes around us to save, to heal and make whole – us and others, fulfilling God’s plan from the beginning of creation. God’s will and determination never waver. In the moment we can’t see. God is in charge – doing more than the eye can see, and it’s good – very good, and one day we’ll see.
These Old Testament stories are important. They tell us we’re not the point. God is. I can’t explain stories where God is blamed for killing enemies, smites right and left – will let his people become Babylon’s property for 40+ years. I do believe God is so in love with this world and all of us – and I can’t explain that one either. God continues to work out our salvation – healing and wholeness for God’s enemies and ours. God chooses us all. When we get it, we’ll see ourselves as God’s beloved being sent into the world – so everyone can see how beloved they are, too. There’s more here than what meets the eye.
We’ll pick the strongest, toughest, the most capable, the most attractive. God looks inside, chooses us all to bear the divine image. That’s what God sees – the divine image God plants in us, and invites us to see His divine image in each other.
More is going on than meets the eye. At least that’s what Jesus died and rose to tell us. One day we will see fully. We will see God’s been all in all, all along. God loves us through thick and thin – more than meets the eye now. One day, my friends, we’ll know fully. Trust me on that one.