A few years ago I took a hike with some friends up into The Smoky Mountains on a Saturday afternoon, to a lake in the mountains The weather forecast was iffy, but it turned out to be mostly sunny as we were hiking in and while we ate our lunch by the lake. But as we finished eating, the clouds were rolling in, down the cliff on the other side of the lake, and enveloping us in fog.
We hoped and prayed the fog/clouds would clear, and we resumed our hike, which would take us in a wide circle around the lake basin and up above the cliff side to a lookout area where, on a clear day, you have an incredible view for many miles. The clouds partly cleared by the time we got there, and we had a pretty majestic vista. We were able to see most of the mountain as the sun came out again. Then we started back down, praising God for the wonderful treat we had seen. Little did we know that a much greater gift was in store.
Several of us decided to go back the way we had come, as the brushy area ahead was wet. The children with us scampered on ahead, and soon called the adults over to the cliff area where they were, to see the rainbow they were looking at.
What we saw was no ordinary rainbow, which would have filled a major section of the sky. Rather, we saw a miniature rainbow, appearing to be maybe 6-10 feet across, nearly full circle, with a bright glow on the inside of it. In the center was our shadow, with each person seeing his or her own shadow in the very center, and the others’ shadows around that. It was slack-jaw awe-inspiring, unlike anything any of us had seen in our lives. With the late sun at our backs, the “rainbow” would fade in and out as the fog came and went over the lake. We watched for several minutes until the fog seemed to be clearing for good, and we thanked the Lord for the glorious spectacle, far better even than the beautiful view we had seen of The Smokies. My friend, took some pictures of the by-then-fading scene, but they don’t do it justice.
We did some net research and found that these phenomena are called “glories.” It’s possible you have seen them from an airplane, looking down on the clouds, if the sun is just right. I’ve seen that, but this was more spectacular. In fact, we have concluded that it was a type of glory called the “Brocken Spectre,” once believed to be seen only from the rim of the Haleakala Crater on Maui, and from Brocken in the Harz mountains of Germany. It still gives me chills to think about it, and I’m sure I will never forget that moment.
It seemed as if God was trying to tell us that, despite the horrible things we often encounter on this earth, the glory that is in store for us will surpass anything we have ever known here. In trying to describe God, Isaiah wrote that no eye has seen nor ear heard anything like our God. The apostle Paul quotes that in 1 Corinthians 2:9 and applies it to the glories that await us.
“No eye has seen, no ear has heard, and no mind has imagined what God has prepared for those who love him.”
And in 2 Corinthians 3:11, he says,
“So if the old way, which has been replaced, was glorious, how much more glorious is the new, which remains forever!”
It truly was an awesome day and reminded us of the amazingly glorious things that God has planned for us — things we can only dimly imagine now. I long for the day when Christ will come and make all things glorious!