Early morning, rain threatening. I leave the apartment and head for the high school track down the street. Hobbled by a sore hamstring, head down, I inch along avoiding cars, piles from pets, and others walking to the subway. Suddenly, off to the right I spot a brilliant pulse of light. But wait, there’s nothing in that direction but menacing clouds. To my left the sun has peeked over the horizon spreading rays of light like fingers across the urban sprawl. I slow down and watch the cloud, and there it is again. Looking closer I notice a flock of doves in formation circling above the tenements, and as their wings pulse in perfect unison they catch the sun and reflect back its light. Ahhh, now I get it, I whisper to myself. I stop jogging and watch several more bursts of light, marveling.
On a natural level, to see the doves move gracefully through the arc of the morning brought my mind away from my muscles and filled me with awe. In the Gospels, we see Jesus causing the same affect with the people who followed Him. When He commanded a paralyzed man to get up from his pallet, the scripture records the people’s response, “we never saw like this!” That’s because the power of God had lifted their eyes away from the mundane, sort of like seeing a flock of doves become a single beacon of light.
The Holy Spirit descended on Jesus at His baptism in the form of a dove. He has sealed our love to Christ for the promise of heaven. He is our guarantee of this. Of all needs, physical, emotional and spiritual, none rivals the need for the Comforter promised ours after Jesus ascended. Yet, there are more tangible needs that scream at us every day in about as many different languages our heart and body can respond to. These set up something we could never plan, or think to anticipate—the illumination of God. At that moment of our greatest need He wants to break into our sight, He wants us to look for the Dove.
When we look for the Dove we are telling God we entrust the details to Him, and assume a stance of awe, which leads us to lift God higher in our minds. When God brings perspective like this, we are better able to relish in the glory of His plan, especially when pain captivates our thoughts, and casts a dark paler upon the landscape of future grace.
Underlying dark and menacing spaces is a brilliant illumination. The Holy Spirit is ever present. He wants to come alongside to comfort, to steal out of a darkness too deep for words a light to guide us back into the arms of Him who hasn’t abandoned, hasn’t wrung his hands, hasn’t left his throne on which He rests, but has eternally, and willfully given us a gift of sight. There are times when nothing a man or woman can say will remove anguish. There are times when no words ever thought or created are enough for comfort, perspective, or understanding. Here we are, standing helpless, but not hopeless, because we can still see.
In deft moments of brokenness, bankrupt ideals, or loss like this: when theology tastes like Melba toast, and nothing makes sense, how do we spot the Dove? God wants us to see Him, resting inside us ready to illuminate, to come along side to comfort. What turns our head might be the hardest step anyone takes who calls himself a Christ follower—surrender. We have met a need that has no answer. We have been surrounded, cut off from any viable option, and removed from others offer of help. Prayer turns our head, and in the backdrop of darkness, we catch a pulse of light, that reminds us He dwells within. He is God. In the light of His presence, the illumination of His Spirit leads us to a throne, to which we bow, because it’s a throne we have already abdicated to Him. We bow in surrender, and give up trying to find an answer. He speaks at that moment words ever true, “be still and know that I am God.” Ahhh, now I get it.