“Show me your glory, Lord,” I whispered as the door clicked shut behind me.
Camera in hand, I strode out boldly towards the French village below. The sun peeked out timidly from a velvet robe of cloud, spilling golden rays over a canvas of sleepy homes and barren trees.
Fresh from my quiet time, invigorated by the promises of the Psalms, I was practically skipping across the cobblestones. Being in a foreign land far from home, I was exhilarated by the possibility of adventure. Surely here, in this exotic place, God would reveal Himself in a mighty way.
As tendrils of fog clutched at the edges of the village, I turned my eyes to the sky, a grin stretching my face wide as I waited for the radiant burst of sunfire I was sure would come.
Three hours later, I trudged back up the same path, my shoulders sagging under the weight of disappointed hope and the peppering of heavy raindrops. The glory hadn’t come. The sun had remained hidden, curling itself deeper into its robes of white and gray, ushering in a fickle-minded autumn storm that flung its watery curses upon the village in short, quick-tempered bursts.
The world around me was still gray, the trees still barren, the houses still dark. The cobblestone streets had wound in and out of shadowy structures devoid of color and empty of life.
The local cathedral, where I had expected to find a magnificent display of stained glass and sacred art, was roped off and deserted.
The library, sure to be wrought of stone and spires and stories, had been modern and simple, with a square, blank face of black steel and smudged glass that seemed to devour what little light spilled between the clouds above.
I wasn’t swept up in adventure; I was stuck in exile.
The raindrops weren’t the only rivulets that ran down my cheeks.
“Why, God?” I muttered under my breath. “Why didn’t You show Yourself? It was a simple prayer, God. A simple request. I just wanted to see You, God. Why are You hiding from me?”
My cries were met with silence. The fog swirled in closer, suffocating.
I stumbled up the steep path to my apartment, feet slipping across the rain-splattered stones, my camera bundled under my shirt in an effort to protect it from the storm. A lot of good it had done me today, anyway. All it had accomplished was to magnify the dreary world, mocking my quest for beauty and light.
As I made the turn to the final hill, I tripped over a slick patch of rock and reached out to steady myself. A cry of frustration burst from my mouth as my fingertips scraped over the rough-hewn surface of a nearby wall, my other hand grasping for the camera.
A horizon of stone filled my vision, specters of gray and brown strangled by dark threads of ivy.
As my eyes flitted back towards the path, eager to abandon this failed mission, something sparkled in the midst of the shadows. I turned my gaze back to the wall and gasped.
Light glimmered in the tears that streaked down the wall’s craggy face, sparkling in the dim glow of the hidden sun. Tiny rainbows gleamed like gems between the stones, hidden treasures beckoning from dark crevasses.
I leaned in, my breath caught in my throat, enraptured by this unexpected kaleidoscope of colors.
Then my eyes were drawn to the center of this spectacle, the diamond embedded in this diminutive mine: an empty snail shell, barely the size of my fingernail, clinging gently to the wall as if affixed there by some secret gravity.
I held my breath, not daring to exhale lest I knock the shell free of the wall’s embrace. I leaned in closer.
Sunfire radiated from the spiral, crimson and gold and white swirling and dancing against the jagged backdrop of grays and browns and tans. A timid wink of sunlight brushed against the edge of the shell, and the wall came alight with waves of color.
Somewhere deep in my heart, something released. All the glory of the sunrise was here, painted across an inch of concrete.
Glory. His glory. Not in a grand miracle or mountaintop experience, but in an empty shell on a broken wall in the middle of a rainy day.
Maybe, I thought, this is how you see God. This is how you seek Him and come to know Him. Not in the grand things, not in the perfect things, but in the simple things, the stumbling things, the broken things.
The everyday things.
I pulled out my camera as the sun shed a corner of its billowing robes, waving a single banner of golden light as if for joy.
That’s how it all began, friends.
For years, God had been cultivating a love of words and art and photography in me, but He chose that simple shell to “enlighten the eyes of my heart” and birth in me a desire to share the hidden treasures of His glory and truth.
Now, years later, I’m still partaking of that adventure, still learning to see and to seek Him. And you know what? I’m so grateful that you’re here. After all, adventures are better when they’re shared.
“Go out and stand before me on the mountain,” the Lord told him. And as Elijah stood there, the Lord passed by, and a mighty windstorm hit the mountain. It was such a terrible blast that the rocks were torn loose, but the Lord was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake. And after the earthquake there was a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire there was the sound of a gentle whisper.
1 Kings 19:11-12