Volume 2, No. 11: Lord Show Us Your Glory!

Thomas Aquinas (1225-1274) is considered by all branches of Christianity as one of the greatest theologians, scholars, and philosophers that has ever lived.

His output as a writer is prodigious.  For example, according to Aquinas biographer, Denys Turner, beginning in 1269 through December 6, 1273 he averaged what would be the equivalent of two to three average-length novels per month.[i]

But on December 6, 1273, a little while after having attended the feast of St. Nicholas of Myra mass, as he was working on the third volume of his greatest work of theology – The Summa Theologica, he abruptly laid down his pen and never wrote again, dying three months later.

It is reported that he said to his assistant, Reginald of Piperno, “After what I have seen today I can write no more: for all that I have written is but straw.” 

What happened?

What did he see at that service?

Did he see a vision of God, of the Cross of Christ, of Heaven?  We don’t know.  But in some way this great theologian, whose mind was second to none, saw such effulgent and ineffable glory that his mind could not comprehend it and for this accomplished writer, words escaped him…he was undone, finished, mute. 

What if that should be the goal of all of us?  To see such a vision of God that this world loses its hold on us and all our aspirations and achievements are put in their proper place.

So much of Christianity is focused on the dirt and dust of this life.  The prevailing message of Christianity in America has been described as “moral therapeutic deism” where our greatest need is to be happy, live prosperous, pain-free lives, and rest in the idea that basically everyone is going to heaven.[ii]

Is that what we mean when we sing, “Lord show us your glory!” and blithely sing about seeing the face of God. 

What if there’s more to it than just us feeling better and getting our needs met?   

What if Sunday services and prayers for revival were about bringing such a manifestation of God’s glory that we were brought to our knees with the weight of our sin and the trivialness of our pursuits and the death grip we have on living comfortably on this planet and instead we were slain…laying down our pen and plow, laying down our petty priorities and power plays, and cutting off the shallow drivel and noise of modern technology and lying mute before Almighty God except to say, “Here am I, have mercy.”

What would happen? 

Like Aquinas’ experience, there’s probably no words to express it. But this I know, to seek the face of God and to cry, “Show us your glory” is a solemn and life-altering petition.

My dear friends and church family, let us, by all means, pray for the glory of God to fall on our lives and our churches, but let us do so realizing that it may cost more than we could have imagined, and it may change us more than we dare to believe.

Awaiting His glory,

David L. Kemp

[i] TURNER, Denys, Thomas Aquinas: A Portrait

[ii] FLUHRER, Gabriel N. E., The Beauty of Divine Grace