Reading: Acts 7:55-60
But filled with the Holy Spirit, he gazed into heaven and saw the glory of God and Jesus standing at the right hand of God. ‘Look,’ he said, ‘I see the heavens opened and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God!’ But they covered their ears, and with a loud shout all rushed together against him. Then they dragged him out of the city and began to stone him; and the witnesses laid their coats at the feet of a young man named Saul. While they were stoning Stephen, he prayed, ‘Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.’ Then he knelt down and cried out in a loud voice, ‘Lord, do not hold this sin against them.’ When he had said this, he died.
Picture this: Stephen sees a really pretty skyscape. Oh, the glory of God, he exclaims! The people cover their ears (not eyes) and rush at him, dragging him out of the city. Okay, we don’t know what Stephen saw exactly, but it was probably more than a really pretty sky. I imagine the people around him couldn’t see the glory of God in the sky like Stephen could or they would have covered their eyes and not their ears. Instead, they can’t even bear to hear about it, much less see it. That’s all it takes. The mere mention.
How often do we clamp our hands over our ears at the mention of God’s glory? God loves you despite all you’ve done. Nope, can’t hear it. God redeems even the most broken. *Covers ears* God can perform miracles. Nah, that’s just Bible stuff. We don’t just cover our ears, though. We lash out, throw the stones at God, and say no, that’s impossible.
Blessedly this passage doesn’t end with the crowd throwing stones. It ends just how it began: Stephen seeing and being a channel for God’s glory. At the beginning, it’s grand and in the sky. At the end, it’s quiet and in the form of mercy. Sometimes in this life, we’ll be more like the crowd, incapable of seeing and unable to hear about God’s glory. Sometimes we’ll be like Stephen, able to see and proclaim the glory around us.
Lord, sometimes we can’t bear to hear of your glory, much less see it. Forgive our obstinate hearts. Give us the strength to take our hands off our ears and look up at the sky. We thank you for those moments when we’re like Stephen, able to see your glory in the grand and quiet places of the world.