What then shall we say of that happiness to come which is promised to the saints, which we consider to be nothing else but the pure and unmediated contemplation of the Divine Essence itself?
- Eriugena, Periphyseon, Irish, 9th century
Arise, O LORD,
Confront him, cast him down;
Deliver my life from the wicked with Your sword,
With Your hand from men, O LORD,
From men of the world who have their portion in this life,
And whose belly You fill with Your hidden treasure.
They are satisfied with children,
And leave the rest of their possession for their babes.
As for me, I will see Your face in righteousness;
I shall be satisfied when I awake in Your likeness.
- Psalm 17.13-15
The great hope of the believer lies beyond this worldly framework, in the heavenly places in Christ, where the glory of God radiates from His face, and we may know fullness of joy and pleasures forevermore (2 Cor. 4.6; Ps. 16.11). A day is coming, every Christian knows, when we will see Jesus as He is; we will be like Him, and will know His radiant presence without hindrance or interruption forever (1 Jn. 3.1-3).
But while this is, indeed, the great hope and happiness to come, it is our privilege to enter this great hope here and now, day by day. Like Paul, we can see the glory of God in the face of Jesus, and know the transforming power of that glory to bring us joy and true spiritual pleasure every day. Our lives have been hidden with Christ in God, and we are seated with Him in heavenly places (Col. 3.3; Eph. 2.6). We have the Word of God, revealing the glory of Jesus on every page (Jn. 5.39).
We do not have to guess about the face of Jesus, what it may be like, or how glorious it may be. The Scriptures provide abundant descriptions of the Lord, exalted in glory (cf. Pss. 45, 93; Rev. 1). As we meditate on these descriptions, and set the Lord before us throughout the day, His face becomes increasingly vivid and His glory is made abundantly real to us.
It is not that we lack ample portraiture to bring us before the glorious face of Jesus Christ; but rather, we lack the will to engage in meditation. For many of us, meditating on the beauty of the Lord is not one of the “one things” which we practice each day as though our hope and joy depended on it (Ps. 27.4).
Consider how long and hard people think about the riches they hope to gain, the children they will bring into the world, the achievements they will realize in their work, the legacy they will leave behind. Visions of this hoped-for boon fill the minds of people by day, and occupy their dreams at night. They read books, articles, newsletters, and websites which they hope will give them an edge for achieving their vision. They arrange all their activities so as to be able to devote maximum time and effort toward the realization of that for which they earnestly long, and which fills their minds throughout the day. They talk eagerly about their goals, dreams, and attainments, and they plan and schedule, day by day, to realize as much of their vision and hope as they can.
It is sad how much zeal and energy we put into these fleeting pleasures, when held out to us are fullness of joy and pleasures forevermore in the presence of our Lord, under His gaze, in the contemplation of His face. Yet our minds are too crowded with mundane delights and distractions, or too filled with doubt concerning the benefit of such meditation, to give ourselves much to the practice of this crucial discipline.
And so we experience very little of the glory of Jesus’ face, and this deprives us of anything more than the barest flicker of excitement as we consider meeting Him hereafter. Our minds filled with fleeting pleasures, we forfeit that which can never fade, never fail to satisfy, and never be taken away from us, and devote our best thoughts to things which, in the end, amount to nothing.
The question is not whether we will meditate – whether we will allow our minds to focus on some great, hoped-for thing, and dwell there. The question is whether we will meditate on Him Who alone can bring us into fullness of joy and pleasures forevermore.
1. How would you explain the discipline of meditation to a new believer? Why is it important?
2. How can you begin to add daily meditation and seeking the face of the Lord to your spiritual disciplines?
Psalm 27.4-6 (Joanna: Immortal, Invisible God Only Wise)
One thing we request but to dwell with You, Lord.
Your beauty to test and to think on Your Word.
In trouble You hide us secure in Your grace;
No foe may o’erride us: We sing of Your praise!
Help me to meditate more frequently on Your beauty, Lord, so that I…
Learn to meditate
Meditation comes naturally to us because our minds are always active and engaged with some thought or image.
But focused meditation requires time and effort. Having a set of exercises to guide us can both improve our meditation and help focus our thoughts throughout the rest of the day on those images and visions that can keep us oriented toward the Lord. Our book Be Thou My Vision provides 28 daily exercises to help us focus more clearly and consistently on the Lord, and to enter His presence with greater joy. You can order a copy by clicking here.
Thanks to those of you whom God has moved and enabled to support our work with your gifts. It’s easy to give to The Fellowship of Ailbe, and all gifts are, of course, tax-deductible. You can click here to donate online through credit card or PayPal, or send your gift to The Fellowship of Ailbe, 360 Zephyr Road, Williston, VT 05495.
T. M. Moore, Principal
All Psalms for singing from The Ailbe Psalter. Scripture taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
 Eriugena, Periphyseon, p. 31.