Signposts: Daily Devotions

Written by Larry Pray

Friday, November 7

In the middle of the living creatures there was something that looked like burning coals of fire, like torches moving to and fro among the living creatures, the fire was bright and lightning issued from the fire. The living creatures darted to and fro like a flash of lightning.
—Ezekiel 1: 13-14

Like”is an unlikely word when it comes to spiritual vision. Wouldn't
it be better to describe spiritual reality using precise terms? But
scripture points us in a different direction.

When Ezekiel had a vision he saw something that looked like burning coals of fire. That is to say they were glowing; perhaps there was some ash; perhaps flames crept up between the coals; perhaps there were luminescent pieces of charcoal swathed in red and orange flames.

But that's not quite right, Ezekiel says, they were like torches, moving to and fro. But that doesn't quite describe it either, and so he goes on to describe the living creatures that darted to and fro like a flash of lightning.

I cannot quite grasp his meaning. Sheet lightning illuminates the
entire sky for a second; fades out, and then begins again. Streaks of lightning strike; then another descends from the same storm cloud. Ezekiel cannot seem to describe exactly what he saw.

The word like is the best he can do when words fail him. He can only describe his astounding vision by likening it to coals, torches, flashes of lightning, movement, and creatures. This is what happens when we are touched by God. There is something indescribable about that moment, vision, and realization.

Like Ezekiel we can use all the metaphors we'd like but the full and complete description gently eludes us. We are left saying our encounter with God is like…

What is true for a vision is also true for hope; and for love; and for
faith; and for that which we call sacred and holy. For each one of us hope is like…the voice of a friend, the dawn of a new day…or perhaps for you it is like…

And in that likeness we find God.

Wonderful creator, when we catch a glimpse of you, or feel your touch, it is like…and so we give you thanks. Amen.