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For now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part, but then I shall know just as I also am known (1 Corinthians 13:12, NKJV).

It was late afternoon, and I sat in front of my computer screen, frustrated. I had spent most of the day in my office trying to put words to paper. What did I have to show for it? Nothing. No ideas flowed from my brain, through my fingers, and onto the screen. Outside it rained in sheets. Yet another dreary, rain-soaked winter’s day here in western Oregon.

Disgusted, I snapped up the window shade to glare at the downpour. That is when I saw it.

One great shaft of sunshine had pierced through the clouds. With the sunburst, a brilliant rainbow spread itself across the lead-gray sky. Below this incredible scene, like a lush green carpet, lay the neighbor’s ryegrass field. An unexpected joy surged over me, washing away my grumpy frame of mind.

Then I noticed something unusual about this rainbow. It had no arc, no curve. I had never seen a rainbow like this one. It looked as though a massive invisible hand pressed down on the rainbow’s curve, making it flat.

Despite my dirt-covered office window, the rainbow looked magnificent. What a view! With its background of dark, gray clouds and green field, the rainbow provided an incredible photo opportunity. I grabbed my 35mm camera and quickly snapped photos of its flattened bands of brilliant blue, yellow, indigo, green, violet, and orange.

While my camera clicked away, I realized how clear, how spectacular the developed photos would turn out — with a clean window. As I rejoiced in this rare experience, the Holy Spirit used the rainbow and my grime-smeared window to give me much needed spiritual insight.

Lasting love

The window and the rainbow became symbols of those periods in my life when I could not sense my Savior’s presence, could not feel His love for me or see the Lord’s work in my life. I was on one side of the opaque window. His love, beauty, and divine purpose for me were on the other side. I recalled the apostle Paul’s famous words about love in 1 Corinthians 13.

As background, Paul spends the greater part of chapter 12 reminding the church at Corinth of three truths: Christ-followers need to exercise their Holy Spirit-given gifts, allow for diversity of gifts, and strive to keep unity within the body of Christ. He ends the chapter with “And yet I will show you the most excellent way” (12:31).

That way is love. In chapter 13, Paul emphasizes that no matter what he said, thought, or did, it was worthless unless motivated by Christ’s selfless love for others. He likens these worthless acts to a “resounding gong or a clanging cymbal,” then adds, “I am nothing. . . . I gain nothing” (vv. 1-3). He reminds the Corinthian church that someday prophecies, tongues, and knowledge will cease, but Jesus’ love for His sheep is eternal.

Paul admits that though now a mature man, he could not see, could not comprehend the magnitude, the power, and the purpose of Christ’s love for him — much as I struggle to. He compared it to trying to see one’s face while looking into a heavily tarnished mirror — or as it reads in the King James Version, through a darkened window.

Paul knew one day there would be nothing between him and his risen Lord. He would stand before Christ and finally see Him, face-to-face. Paul knew that then, and only then, would he understand everything. He would have perfect knowledge, and he would finally experience the full power and immeasurable grace of his Savior’s redemptive love. Paul assures the Corinthian believers this will be their future too.

Seeing Jesus

I understand Paul’s yearning to be in the presence of our Savior. I desire, more than anything else, to be face-to-face with the One perfect personification of God the Father’s love for His children. This is my hope, my joy, and my future. Glory to God! Someday I will be with Christ.

The Bible promises that this future also awaits all who have chosen Jesus Christ as their Savior. When that day comes, there will be no more straining to see our Lord through this world’s dirty window. No more will we have doubt about His love for us. Most important, there will be no more waiting to see Him.

No longer will there be any curse. The throne of God and of the Lamb will be in the city, and his servants will serve him. They will see his face, and his name will be on their foreheads (Revelation 22:3, 4).

Virginia A. Johnson
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Virginia A. Johnson has published 200 articles in newspapers, periodicals, and tabloids and has self-published a book, A Greenhorn Gal: Life in Eastern Montana. She and her husband live in Sublimity, OR.