Frustration mounts as I swipe the towel across the foggy mirror. My face appears briefly before me as the condensation from the steamy shower covers the glass once more. Again I rub the towel against the surface but this time in a vigorous circular motion. My face reappears, a bit more clearly this time, but still not enough to finish my morning routine as I prepare for the workday. Necessity forces me to abandon my attempt.
This is a perfect picture of the verse in I Cor. 13:12, “Now we see things imperfectly, like puzzling reflections in a mirror, but then we will see everything with perfect clarity. All that I know now is partial and incomplete, but then I will know everything completely, just as God now knows me completely.” It reminds us that we don’t have all the answers and that we are on a continuum of revelation as we progress from glory to glory.
Recently, I was discussing denominations with my niece who was asking how one could really know what denomination is right. Having grown up Catholic, she was sure she didn’t want to go that direction. However, I felt a strong conviction to share my foggy mirror syndrome theory with her. I understood where she was coming from, having had my own issues with Fundamental Baptist beginnings. I reminded her that none of us have all the answers and, in all actuality, each of the denominations has their area of clarity. I remember a friend, a devout Catholic, who told me of her deeply moving experiences while serving in Eucharistic Adoration which is explained at www.catholic-church.org as the “adoring or honouring the Eucharistic Presence of Christ”. She would say wistfully that she felt the Presense of Jesus in such a tangible and profound way during this time. I sensed the deeply moving experience it was for her and although I didn’t understand the practice, the impact on her was obvious.
While writing my current historical novel, Chasing Clare, I have done a significant amount of research on the Shakers. In my story, the main character Clare finds a home within the Shaker community at a time in her life where she would’ve been an outcast among any other denomination. The Shakers, however, had an awe-inspiring openness toward the needy. If people stole from their gardens, they planted more the next year in order to feed those who obviously needed the sustenance. If a traveler lacked shelter they were welcome to stay the winter until spring enabled them to move on. A child, who couldn’t be adequately cared for, was always given a home within the community and happily raised as one of their own.
I could continue siting the admirable qualities of the branches of the Church for indeed they each, at some point, received revelation from God and had clarity on an aspect of the Gospel. There is not one of them that has it all perfectly. None have the complete picture and all suffer the “foggy mirror syndrome”. The good news is that some day we will know everything completely. Until then, in humility, we must all admit that we lack absolute clarity and continue our journey in search of answers found only in HIM.