By Debbie Shope

Sometimes my mind gets stuck. As you might imagine, this can often be quite unhelpful. Occasionally, though, it sticks on a word that I believe God wants me to consider deeply. In the last months, that word has been “glory”. (Lest you think the words are always so ‘inspired’, after reading a recipe recently that called for a fluted pan, I have been walking around saying the word “fluted” – I just like the way it feels when you say it and how it sounds. Oh well.)

Glory is not a word we use much anymore. And yet, as I conversed with someone recently, I recalled a particular moment in which I had a profound sense of joy and peace, beauty and goodness, humility and dignity, all enveloped in a sense of God’s loving presence – and the only word I could use was glorious. Why is that?

Minds far greater than mine have pondered the meaning of glory, particularly God’s glory. So I decided to look around. One dictionary of theology defines God’s glory as “the external manifestation of his being”. John Piper says that “the glory of God is the infinite beauty and greatness of his manifold perfections”. Wow. The Scriptures are filled with references to God’s glory: In Kings, it “fills the house of the Lord”; in the Psalms, God is the “King of glory” who “thunders”. In Luke, “the glory of the Lord” shines around the shepherds on a hillside. The more I look, the more the idea of glory becomes greater and deeper and more wonderful and terrible than I can imagine. It is far beyond the comprehension of my busy, finite, and over-tired mind. But this is where God has told me to sit for a while, and so I sit, and wait.

As I thought about it, I realized this is exactly where I should be as I come into the season of Advent – a season of waiting. I believe that, even though the concept of His glory is too weighty for us to bear all at once, God graciously gives each of us glimpses of glory – moments of insight or experience that pull back the curtain to uncover what is too great for us to hold as long as we are in this fallen world – a taste of things to come. But years ago, he gave all of mankind the greatest glimpse of His glory that He ever could. “And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we saw His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth.” I hope that in the coming weeks I will sit and wait and be steeped in the glory of the Incarnation. Maybe being stuck isn’t so bad after all.