Christmas: The Day I Saw God’s Glory!

by Roger Barrier

“Glory to God in the Highest! And on earth, peace, goodwill towards men!” Luke 2:14 KJV

The angels proclaimed God’s glory as Jesus was surrounded by livestock and shepherds. I longed to see God’s glory for myself. This is my story:

“I want to see your glory. I want to be like Moses the day you tucked him in behind a rock and your glory passed by. I want to be like Isaiah that day when he saw you in the temple—high and mighty and lifted up!”Immediately, I was humbled and ashamed. I apologized for my arrogance.

I wasn’t Moses or Isaiah. Who was I to make such a request?T hen, I wondered, “Why can’t I pray to see God’s glory? I’m no Moses or Isaiah. But, I am a Christian—a child of God. So, why not ask?”

The sun was peeking over the horizon that Arizona morning as I jogged along a deserted desert road. I lifted my hands and prayed to see God’s glory. I mean, after all, Why not?

Six months later I was preaching when a teenaged boy about fifteen rows back on my left pulled out a flashlight and held it near his belt buckle. Moments later he aimed at my eyes and turned on the light. I blinked, paused, turned to him and said,

“Please turn off the flashlight.” He switched it off.

Ten minutes later he did it again. My irises closed down. I blinked and pointed my finger directly at him:

“Son, I can’t see! Would you please stop shining that flashlight in my face? He switched it off.”

I was angry.

Instead of pronouncing my usual closing blessing on the congregation, I asked one of our elders to pray a dismissal prayer. While every head bowed, I hustled down the aisle to row fifteen.

I was standing face to face with my adversary when the elder said, “Amen,”I attacked him immediately:

“I didn’t appreciate your shining that flashlight in my face.”

“What flashlight?”

“You know what flashlight! The one you kept shining in my face.”

He replied, “I don’t have a flashlight.”

“No flashlight!” I was incredulous! “Of course you have a flashlight. I saw you holding it at your belt buckle.”

He repeated, “I don’t have a flashlight!”I knew he was lying. I blurted out, “May I frisk you?”

He was so startled that he lifted his arms inn obedience.

It’s not often that a pastor accosts a teenager about a shining a flashlight in his face during the sermon—especially an eighteen-year-old high school football lineman named, Mike.

He was an imposing sight as he stood with arms outstretched.His mother and father were not at all happy. Their son was not a Christian. Mom and Dad had brought Mike to church for years hoping he would come to know Christ. Now here I stood face to face with their son accusing him of childish shenanigans.

Mom and dad were hot with anger. But, somehow, I didn’t care about any of that. I wanted to see the flashlight.I’d never in my life frisked anyone. All I knew about frisking I’d learned watching television. I patted his chest a little bit, under his armpits and down his back. I felt uncomfortable patting any more. It was obvious that I’d made a serious mistake.

I glanced under the pew in a furtive attempt to see if he’d slid it out of sight. But, there was no flashlight.I couldn’t apologize enough. Mike told me to forget it.

“It’s no big deal,” He said.

But, it was a big deal to mom and dad. My relationship with Louise and Glen was rather estranged until a year or so later when Glen called me and said, “Last night I got the 1:30 a.m. phone call that all parents dread. Mike was on the line: ‘Dad, I’m over at my girl friend’s apartment. Can you come over right now?’ I thought to myself, ‘Well, the call finally came.’

My imagination ran wild: Was she pregnant? Were they going to get married? Were they considering an abortion? God forbid!”

Glen continued, “I was totally unprepared for what happened when I arrived. My son opened the door and said, ‘Dad, we want you to explain to us how to become Christians.’

I was shocked! I gathered my composure and led them both to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ.”

“I asked him what changed his mind?”

Mike replied, “Ever since my cousin, encouraged me to give my life to Christ, I’ve been thinking about it. And, dad, remember last year when Roger accused me of shining that flashlight in his face? I put God to a test that day. I told God that I would accept Christ if He proved to me that He was real.

I told Him that I would listen carefully to Roger’s sermon the next morning, and if I could find three things that directly applied to me, I would know He was real. If I couldn’t find three things, I would never go to church again. I listened to the sermon and found two things that sort of applied to me. When the sermon was over I was disappointed. Have you noticed, Dad, I haven’t been to church since that Sunday?”

“Tonight, it dawned on me. God answered my prayer. Remember about ten minutes into the sermon Roger looked at me and said, ‘Please turn off that flashlight.’ Then, about ten minutes later he pointed his finger directly at me and said, ‘Son, would you please stop shining that flashlight in my face? I can’t see!’ Then, at the close of the service, Roger accosted me face to face. Roger hasn’t spoken ten words to me in the seven years you’ve taken me to that church?”

As I hung up the phone it dawned on me that God had also answered my prayer. He showed me a little bit of His glory and I thought it was a flashlight!

In those days our choir sat in a choir loft directly behind the preacher during the entire service. At choir practice later in the week, I asked the choir if anyone had seen the Light? They all remembered me pointing to the boy and talking about the flashlight; but no one actually saw the Light. Of course, I suppose that I was the only one who’d prayed to see God’s glory.

Imagine, that on a Sunday morning God intertwined the prayers of a simple ordinary pastor with the prayers of a disillusioned, questioning teenager—and answered them both.

I performed Mike’s wedding several years later. He and his wife are happily married and raising three godly children.

It doesn’t get much better than that.

I do want to see God’s glory: “Blessed are the pure in heart for they will see God” (Matthew 5:8).

I’ve often thought of my “glory” experience in terms of Exodus 20:18-19. God invited the Israelites over to hear Him speak the Ten Commandments and they were afraid and refused His offer.

When the people saw the thunder and lightning and heard the trumpet and saw the mountain in smoke, they trembled with fear. They stayed at a distance and said to Moses, “Speak to us yourself and we will listen. But do not have God speak to us or we will die.”

How many are saying, “Preacher, why don’t you go over to the mountain and hear God speak and then come on Sunday and tell me what He says. I’m afraid that if I hear God speak it will cost me my life.”

Truer words were never spoken. When we hear God speak we will never be the same again.

In an age when we Christians need to speak powerfully the Word of God too many of us are just stut…stut…stuttering.

Do you want to see God? Do you want to hear God speak? Of course you do. Go draw near to the mountain. It doesn’t get any better than that.

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