In the Broadway musical, Godspell, there is a simple ballad, “Day By Day,” in which the singer(s) express a desire to be closer to Jesus. Day By Day/YouTube There are three “prayers”– 1) to see thee more clearly; 2) Love thee more dearly, and 3) follow thee more nearly. I have heard various opinions and critiques of the musical, from the use of clown makeup and vaudeville tunes, to the marginal grammar of this song. But I’d like to spend some time digging in to the three simple prayers.
Today, I want to look at (literally) the first prayer– “to see thee more clearly”. There is one prayer, but I think it can be broken down into two parts.
First, I want to SEE God. God is Spirit–an invisible essence– and yet he manifests himself in a million different ways all around us. God is in the inky, endless blackness of a moonless night, and in the vibrant colors of spring blossoms; in the glaring reflection of the sun off the lake, or the gray and palpable mist over the meadow. He is in the wrinkled face of my neighbor, and the exuberant smile of a toddler, and the beauty of a horse running or an eagle soaring. But I can see all of this and more and still not see God. I can focus on the creation and miss the creator. I can focus on the beauty and learn nothing of the artist. I can see the amazing variety of people in the world– skin tones and eye shapes, facial expressions, and body language, dimples and hairstyles and nose-wrinkling, and hand-wringing, and miss the Love of God for each one.
Sadly, I can sing this prayer, pray for insight, and still miss seeing God. I can trample His creation, dismiss His presence, and hate the people He loves enough to die for; people who bear the stamp of His image.
And I want to see Him “more clearly”–I want to see him as he really is, and not as I imagine him to be. We live in an age of glossy retouched photos of models and celebrities; we “see” their image, without knowing what they truly look like, and without knowing anything about who they really are inside. In many ways, God is only slightly less invisible than the real people around us. How many people do we ignore in a day’s time? How many do we glance at, only to get stuck on a single detail (a hair on their sweater, or something caught in their teeth, or a receding hairline or blotchy face). How many people surprise us by not being like the image they project? I don’t want to see a Photoshop Jesus; a glossy, smiling image of someone who says only what I want to hear, and looks like nothing ever touches him. I want to see the Jesus who wept over the death of his friend; the Jesus who laughed with delight as he talked with children; the Jesus whose eyes were full of compassion even as he was dying on the cross. I want to see the Living Word of God.
Jesus is close– closer than we think. I want to spend today seeing him more clearly.