“This joy in God is not like any pleasure found in physical or intellectual satisfaction. Nor is it such as a friend experiences in the presence of a friend. But, if we are to use any such analogy, it is more like the eye rejoicing in light.”
St. Augustine wrote about the joy of knowing God.
Yet how was he to explain in words the depth of joy that comes from knowing one’s creator? Knowing God was not like any kind of pleasure he had ever experienced.
Knowing God surpasses physical pleasures, such as satisfying hunger with a delicious meal or warming a body after coming in from the cold.
Knowing God surpasses intellectual pleasures, such as of discovering new knowledge or finally mastering a new skill.
Knowing God surpasses even the immense joy that comes from personal friendship, even with one whom you can be fully yourself.
Augustine says that knowing God is like an eye rejoicing in light.
Imagine a world that knows no light. Left in the void is varying shades of darkness. I think of the times when I turn out the lights before I go to bed. Immediately after I flip the switch, there is complete darkness. Pitch black. But soon, my eyes begin to slowly adjust. I can “see”— if you want to call it that. I can make out some shapes and objects, at least dimly.
But it is darkness all the same.
Then…imagine a glimmer of light that bursts into the room. The light illumines. It shines. All of the sudden you can see things clearly. No longer are the edges blunted in dull shadows of the dark. Now, for the first time, all in the room is defined and distinct and bright.
Knowing God is like an eye rejoicing in the light.
The prophet Isaiah writes:
The people walking in darkness
have seen a great light;
on those living in the land of deep darkness
a light has dawned.
The light that has dawned is the birth of Jesus.
Jesus, God in the flesh, was born into our world…Isaiah calls him a light shining in the darkness.
I recently made a campfire with my family. I began the process of crumpling the newspaper, collecting kindling and sparking the fire while it was still dusk. By the time the fire was roaring, dusk had given way to night.
As I sat near the fire, feeling its warmth on my skin, I was struck at how beautiful light is as it shines in darkness. Not only is a fire intensely practical in the dark; it is also surprisingly enchanting.
Have you ever just stared into a fire, captivated by the dance of the flames?
Knowing God is like an eye rejoicing in light.
This Advent season, I encourage you to rejoice in the light. God has come to earth. A light has dawned on the people walking in darkness. Rejoice in Jesus, the light of the world.
This Sunday is the first Sunday in the season of Advent. We will begin our new Incarnation series as we study why we call Jesus both Christ and Messiah.
See you on Sunday!