It’s been a perfect August vacation afternoon. The smoke and rain have cleared enough for my husband and I to enjoy a lakeside hike in Grand Teton National Park.
The mountains’ jagged grey peaks jut high into the sky, ribbons of snow still clinging along north-facing crevices. A family of Canadian geese glide on jade-colored waters which mirror the mountains. A white-footed hare forages near the trail.
My soul drinks in the scene the way a thirsting desert wanderer gulps fresh water. Such beauty. Such magnificence.
We’re still marveling at what we’ve seen as we make our way into Jackson for a bite to eat.
The first place we stop has an hour and a half wait. We decide to try one more brewery before resorting to fast food and end up at a place with floor-to-ceiling windows offering a view of the local ski hill, green this time of year, bathed in late afternoon sunlight.
On the outside of the glass wall is a balcony which is reserved for a party of some kind. We happily accept a table on the inside, no wait.
That’s when the God-surprise begins to unfold.
As we order and begin to eat, our eyes follow the party on the balcony. Folks are dressed up in western finery with cowboy hats and boots, bolo ties and turquoise jewelry. They load up their plates from a buffet line while a country singer croons from the corner.
Everyone is smiling and laughing. One lovely woman is wearing a one-piece white pantsuit with an attached scarf draped gracefully across her back. Soon she and a handsome man are standing arm in arm addressing the group.
Ah, the bride and groom. We’ve evidently stumbled upon a wedding rehearsal dinner.
A mixture of ages is represented. One elderly man walks with a cane and carries an oxygen bag. A grinning lad of about eleven and a girl maybe eight—his sister? —hang close to the couple as they make their speeches. Kids from a first marriage?
Suddenly, a joyful cheer erupts as one man arrives late.
The young girl sprints along the balcony, auburn braids swinging wildly under her cowgirl hat, and launches herself into the man’s arms. After he squeezes her and puts her down, he hugs the boy, then the adults at the main table.
He looks a lot like the groom. His brother, maybe? Everyone is obviously thrilled that he’s made it.
It’s fun to watch the group and try to guess family relationships and dynamics.
I glance over at my husband as we eat and notice a sheen of tears in his eyes. I’m feeling a pang, too. The love and joy on the other side of the glass is palpable.
The young girl dances, first with her uncle, then with her brother. She’s having the time of her life.
I say to Scott, “I can just imagine Jesus at this party, raising a glass and laughing with everyone.”
We finish dinner and reluctantly walk back to our car.
As we wind our way back over the Teton Pass to Idaho, the scene I’ve witnessed pierces me so deeply that tears course down my cheeks and small sobs escape my lips.
Lord, what is this?
Not until the middle of the night, when I randomly awaken, does it hit me.
It’s the imago Dei.
I’ve witnessed the glory of God displayed in His image-bearers once again.
Here is an astonishing truth—the radiance of God reflected in human faces has more power to take my breath away than does the stunning grandeur of the Tetons.
This yearning, this piercing longing to pass through the glass barrier and join the fun goes far deeper than mere human sentiment about parties.
I am literally feeling God’s emotions along with Him, at once a deep ache and a great joy.
God had a dream when He first created humankind in His image—a dream of heart-to-heart fellowship and walking together in communion with a creature uniquely like Himself. He created us to enjoy feasting and wine, hugging and laughter, music and dancing.
He created community to reflect His own divine fellowship.
His desire has always been for us to live in communion with Him and one another, savoring and celebrating the love, happiness and satisfaction of which He is the Source.
The Westminster Catechism puts it this way:
“Man’s chief end is to glorify God, and to enjoy him forever.”
God’s love for every human being is immeasurable, regardless of race, ethnicity, age, gender, social status or physical condition.
Watching the celebration that evening, I reflected on the marriage supper of the Lamb and our future hope as Christians.
Now we see as through a glass (1 Cor. 13:12). We can almost hear the music of heaven, almost taste its bountiful feast. Almost.
One day we’ll join a celebration far more joyful than anything we’ve ever known.
Until then, let’s gaze through the barrier and, together with Him, long for the day when He makes all things new (Rev. 21:5).
Let’s keep demonstrating the love of Christ in our families, communities and nations.
Having glimpsed how God feels about His image-bearers, how can we do any less?
(This post was slightly revised from when it recently appeared in PregnancyHelpNews.)