“For now we see through a glass, darkly…” – death as a semi-colon;

(Note: due to an WordPress anomaly, this may be the second time “For Now we see through a glass, darkly….” has popped up. This commentary was originally written December 11. My December 12 column will post later this morning – DEREK)

For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known. (1 Corinthians 13:12)

Memorial for Greg Zegel
Memorial for Greg Zegel

Funerals/Memorial services almost always make a powerful impact on my mind and my spirit. This was especially true Monday evening, when the sanctuary at our church was packed to capacity with hundreds of people who came to:

  • mourn the passing…
  • celebrate the life…
  • pay their respects…
  • understand death…
  • understand their own life…
  • grapple with personal mortality…
  • ask hard questions…
  • shake their fists at the “unfairness…”
  • make sense of the tragedy…
  • find comfort in the midst of uncertainty…
  • make peace with God…
  • make peace with life…
  • inch their way closer to God…

TAKE A STAND: Two-thirds of the attendees were not from our church, well over 100 were young-adults in their early-20′s, and a majority of the visitors were not “church-going” people. But everyone who came was there, in part (and irrespective of their consciousness of this) to take a stand against the creeping meaninglessness that seems to have taken root at the core of our secular world.

“We’re not necessarily people of faith, but we refuse to accept the finality our lack of faith would conclude. We’re here because, and at the epicenter of who we are, we suspect that we know more, and we can hear God calling us, and we so very much want to believe….”

TRUTH: That’s the kind of profound truth that was so evident during the evening. And it hit me with startling clarity that this life is not all there is, and there’s not a shadow of a doubt that we were created for eternity.

It’s interesting to me how death – “the end of the world as we know it” – brings life into such clear focus, and how the end of a life brings home the truth that life never ends.

Death, and I’ve used this idea before, is better understood as a semi-colon than a period.

THEN WE SHALL KNOW FULLY: Later, Rebekah told me that she doesn’t know that she has ever before experienced such complete, absolute attention during a message. It was as if 400 souls were laid bare, the doors to their deepest places swung open (or at very least the windows cracked) to receive words of hope, words of encouragement, words of faith, words of truth.

Greg Zegel was 21
Greg Zegel was 21

I’ll conclude today’s post with part of the scripture passage Rebekah read. Typically, 1 Corinthians 13 is used at weddings. But last night the words spoke so clearly into the tragedy of a 21-year-old’s sudden death. Read the entire chapter (pasted below my signature), but pay close attention to verses 12 and 13:

Greg Zegel was 21

For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.

And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.

We will see. We will know. We are known. Love Wins – DEREK

1 Corinthians 13

New International Version (NIV)

If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing.

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part, but when completeness comes, what is in part disappears. When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me. For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.

And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.


  1. In gratitude Derek. That reading from Corinthians is what I read at my Mother’s funeral. It’s perfect and true. Blessings to you for sharing and on the Zegel circle of faith.


  2. Derek,
    I am sure I read this when you wrote it. However, I remember very little from those first days after Greg’s passing. I just read it again and am profoundly moved by your words and the truth they illustrate. As hard as it has been to deal with the loss of our dear Greg, I have frequently felt God’s infinite presence during this grieving process.
    Thank you for your inspired and inspiring style of telling the real story of life.



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