Playing Hide and Seek with an Invisible God – Matthew 22 & Acts 22
Here is the painful truth about following a Bible-reading schedule: you cannot hide from the verses you do not like. Follow the schedule faithfully enough, and you will confront something that confuses you, or makes you uncomfortable. You will, immediately or eventually, read something that triggers doubt.
I do not mean doubts about God, necessarily. His existence, let’s say. Or his character. I have been blessed to walk through that kind of doubt. God proved himself True, God proved himself Love, and I am forever grateful.
But there is also self-doubt. This is the doubt I now face with more regularity.
I wonder, Am I doing this following-Jesus thing right? Was that really God’s voice? Did I actually see God in that place?
Or was it all a trick of the light?
The twenty-second chapter of the book of Matthew is like a briar patch. Here I am and here is Jesus, and between us? A tangle of thorny questions.
Questions about heaven and hell, marriage and the resurrection. Questions about money and political allegiance, and questions about the interpretation of old Scriptures.
So many questions … and when Jesus answers? I, at least, am left with at least a few more questions. I want to stop him. I want to tug on his cloak and say, “What does it mean we’ll be like the angels? How do I love God with heart, mind, and soul?”
The Pharisees “plotted how to entangle [Jesus] in his words,” but I am the one trapped. As the chapter closes and Jesus and the crowds move offstage, I am left tangled in questions and parables I only half understand.
I want answers, yes. But more than that, I want Jesus.
With nothing in between.
Here is another thing about a Bible-reading schedule: unlikely pairings. After Matthew, I read the twenty-second chapter of the book of Acts.
All I can think is, “I want to see Jesus. Where is my blinding flash of light?”
I am caught between questions that may or may not be answerable (in this lifetime, at least) and a desperate desire to see this Jesus face to face.
I am not a Pharisee (who looked Jesus in the eyes yet was blind). But I am not Saul, either (who saw Jesus and was blinded by that vision).
Mine is a stubbornly invisible God.
Here is my favorite thing about a Bible-reading schedule: surprise. Those verses you thought you knew? Reading them again, you realize how much you have forgotten. Even, possibly, how much you never noticed.
In the book of Acts, we find Saul on that road to Damascus twice. An obvious fact, but one I’ve never really considered.
First, in chapter nine, we have the direct narrative of his conversion. In chapter twenty-two we have Paul’s own retelling. No longer blind, a new creation with a new name, he tells his story to the crowd. It is as if the Light still flashes on that road, and Paul wants everyone who hears his story to see it too.
Looking back with him, my eyes are opened.
What do I see when I forget about tomorrow and look back over my life? What do I see behind?
I see a God who is no longer hidden. No longer invisible.
I see a God who found me when I wandered. I see a God who never left my side.
And what I see is no trick of the light.
Christie Purifoy earned a PhD in English literature from the University of Chicago. She recently traded reading lists and classrooms for a vegetable garden and a henhouse in southeastern Pennsylvania. Now she writes stories at an old desk in the parlor of a Victorian farmhouse called Maplehurst. When the noise of her four young children makes writing impossible, she tends zucchini and tomatoes her children will later refuse to eat. The zucchini-loving chickens are perfectly happy with this arrangement.
The chickens move fast and the baby crawls faster, but Christie is always watching for the beauty, mystery and wonder that lie beneath it all. When she finds it, she shares it at ChristiePurifoy.com.