Listen to this week’s Devotional here.
Author: Nicole Speer
So we are always confident; even though we know that while we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord – for we walk by faith, not by sight. ~2 Corinthians 5:6-7
When I saw some of the first images coming back from the James Webb telescope earlier this summer, I was filled with awe. The images were stunning; that they reflected events from across the universe was almost incomprehensible. What I found most inspiring about those first images was the fact that they came across space andtime. We were seeing events from the beginning of the universe, over 13 billion years in our past. And even though we’d lacked the tools to see them with clarity, these signals from the past had always existed in our present.
Around the same time, I was talking to a friend about a challenging situation I was experiencing in advocating for love and justice, and how lonely I felt as one of the few people able to confront this particular challenge. My friend acknowledged my loneliness, and then encouraged me to think outside of time: While I may not have as many people working alongside me as I would like to have at this moment in time, there are people spread all over time who have been in similar situations. Outside the boundary of time, I have more partners than I can count.
As I reflected on this concept of existence without time, I began to envision all my collaborators scattered across time as if they were points of light from the Webb telescope, and I started looking for their presence. We’d been in the same place at different times, and if I removed the constraint of time, I ought to be able to spot them.
I found them in the Bible, especially in Paul’s letters. I found them in the writings and speeches of abolitionists and civil rights leaders. I found them in the poems and art and music of those who worked for love and justice from the margins of their societies. And as I found these messages from the past, I began to find comfort. My friend was right: I was not alone.
Because I’m human, my feeling of loneliness hasn’t gone away since I started thinking outside of time. I feel the physical absence of those who understand my challenges. I long to sit around a table with my partners in time, share a meal, and hear their wisdom and encouragement firsthand. But when I close my eyes, I feel their love and support, even as I am away from them – for we walk by faith, not by sight.
The work we do for love, compassion, and justice is often unsupported and unwelcomed in our present, but in the same way that the light from stars billions of years in the past can reach us today, the light from those who’ve come before us can find us in the present. And as we continue the work of love in this space and time, we can do so knowing we are sending our light into someone else’s future.
Lord, may we shine your love so brightly that those in the past will find faith, those in the present will find hope, and those in the future will find love. Amen.