Witnessing the Glory of God, Part 2

By Clarissa Middleton

December 22, 2019

The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.

John 1:14 NRSV


I have the privilege, the honor, and the ability to call my paternal great-grandmother whenever I choose. As a young woman in my early thirties with children of my own, I do not take this privilege lightly. On my maternal side we lost four generations—my mother, her mother, her grandmother, and my great-great grandmother—between 2009-2013. I am deeply aware that our time on earth with each other is precious and short.

A candle burning with Christmas lights in the distanceA couple weeks ago, my oldest daughter and I called my great-grandmother, whom we call, “Gram,” to talk about God. She has spoken to me about our Lord and the power of prayer for as long as I can remember. These conversations significantly inspired the trajectory of my formation process in my adolescent years, and it is a priceless act on my part to intentionally immerse my children in her wisdom. This is of particular importance to me given the 80-plus years age difference between my gram and my children, and the 3000 miles of earth that separates our home from hers.

At 93 years old, my gram is blessed with having all mental and physical faculties running smoothly. She is also able to travel and engages in a fairly robust social life that includes frequent trips on the bus to downtown Philadelphia’s Reading Terminal Market. (This is a place highly recommended for anyone visiting the birthplace of our nation anytime soon.)

My gram rarely mentions any aches and pains she may be having. If I were a betting woman, I would put money on the reality of her having many aches and pains. However, most of our conversations are consumed by laughter. We laugh big, long, and hard from our bellies together. We always have. I believe her lifestyle is a dream we can all hope for in our seasoned years.

When we consider our desires for the quality of living we will experience at any age—but particularly in what Mark Roberts, our executive director here at the De Pree Center, calls the “Third Third” of life—being mobile, in our own homes, with ability to care for ourselves, still having a zeal for life itself, and the capacity to travel is what we millennials call #goals.

For the last three years in America, the life expectancy rate has sadly been declining—specifically amongst people in their mid-forties to mid-fifties. In November of this year, the L.A. Times reported that suicides, overdoses, and diseases are major factors in this decline. They even have a name for this tragic phenomenon trending amongst both America’s middle aged citizens and our teens. They call them “deaths of despair,” and they exhibit a great dearth of the glory of God, the glory that we as Christians desire to witness.

For us humans, challenges, pain, and disappointments to some degree are inevitable; but what are the driving forces converting seasonal suffering into early demise? As a researcher on human development, I had to inquire about the root cause of my gram’s sustained wellbeing. Her answer reinforced a personal paradigm I believe I will be presenting evidence of for the rest of my life: our intimate time communing with God matters.

On speakerphone, with my daughter present, I asked “Gram, why do you think you’ve aged so well? You know not a lot of people your age live the way that you do?”

“Well, I make sure I say my prayers every day. I talk to God all day long.” My gram went on to explain her daily rhythms of prayer, her thoughts about God’s impact on her life, and why she is thinks it is very good for us to spend time with God. She believes that her prayer life has sustained her wellbeing.

Now this is not to say that if you do not pray, meditate on scripture, or consult God about your daily living you cannot live well or you won’t suffer a death of despair. What this does attest to is a process, a way, or a methodology for witnessing God’s glory.

My gram would not tell you that she is versed in exegesis or that she engages in spiritual disciplines like, meditatio Scripturarum. This is just not the way she would narrate her encounters with God. She does, however, speak highly of her fellowship with others at her church, her intention to be grateful and enjoy life no matter what suffering she encounters, and how her conversations with God impart valuable wisdom to her spirt. She prays for every member of our family by name every morning. #goals

When I think about my gram, I am reminded that being intentional about how we bear witness to God’s glory is a critical part of our Christian journey. I consider it a life-giving act to commune with God in such a way that we build in rest stops via prayer and meditation throughout our day to highlight God’s truth and presence in our lives.

In my quiet moments with God, I am infused with light by the act of internalizing Logos. My real #goals this Christmas are posturing my heart, my mind, and my spirit to receive a rhema word from the Lord that manifests the glory of God in my life like never before. Of course, I will also play with my kids and their new toys, make our home a warm place for celebration, and inhale all the delicious food we are preparing to serve.

To be able to serve God, though, as a witness to his truth and full grace, and to share my own testimonies as life for leaders who also desire for the Word of God to dwell in their atmosphere—these for me are the real #goals of the season. Merry Christmas everyone!

Something to Think About:

In what ways do your life’s experiences serve as a witness to God’s glory?

Something to Do:

This Christmas engage with family members about God’s glory in their life. Think about all the ways God’s word has been actualized in your life this year and share these encouraging truths with your loved ones. 


We call you Emmanuel, God with us. There is no circumstance or condition that would cause you to deny us a relationship with you. You’ve promised to never leave us or forsake us. You came down from high to be with us here below. You are the lover of our souls, and we are your beloved. Help us to never lose sight of our true identity, inheritance, and place in your kingdom. Jesus, thank you for your mercy that we may inherit your righteousness, your grace, and your peace.

In your Holy Name we pray, Amen.

Explore more at The High Calling archive, hosted by the Theology of Work Project:
What Is God’s Glory?

Clarissa Middleton

Artist and Business Consultant

Clarissa Joan Middleton is an artist and business consultant committed to making media for social change. On May 10, 2019, Clarissa graduated from the USC School of Cinematic Arts with her MFA in Interactive Media. Her thesis “Cognitive Science, Belief, and Interactive Media as a Dist...

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