I recently finished David Copperfield by Charles Dickens. Even though it was the second time I had read it, the emotions were the same, if not accentuated. I love almost everything about it—the language, the emotions, the characters, the lessons, etc. The only thing I might not have loved was that Mr Micawber talked way too much. But then again, he’s like that.
In short, this is what happened with the book:
Nothing like a Veggietales gif to explain your feelings about a book.
Anyway, to the point. What especially struck me this time while reading was a sentence near the end (page 750 out of 837 in my edition) in a letter from Emily Peggotty to David Copperfield. There’s a lot of sorrowful backstory behind the letter, but to stay spoiler-free I won’t say anything about it.
Starting from the second paragraph of the letter:
I have put the words close to my heart. I shall keep them till I die. They are sharp thorns, but they are such comfort. I have prayed over them, oh, I have prayed so much. When I find what you are, and what uncle is, I think what God must be, and can cry to him.
Goodbye forever. Now, my dear, my friend, good-bye forever in this world. In another world, if I am forgiven, I may wake a child and come to you. All thanks and blessings. Farewell, evermore.
Sure, it’s sad and beautiful, but so what? Look again. This is what struck me to the core and resounded in my soul:
“When I find what you are, and what uncle is,
I think what God must be, and can cry to him.”
There are thousands of beautiful sentences in David Copperfield, but in this reread of it I feel that this is the most beautiful. To unpack and delve into it, I’ll give some context.
Both Mr Peggotty (the uncle referred) and Copperfield had been exceedingly kind to Emily and had helped to extricate her from a scathing scandal. She’s full of remorse and penitence.
And then she writes those words that I have emboldened and italicised. She had certainly strayed from God in those dark years, but now she returns to Him and dares to pray to Him. But why? Because she has seen an image of Him in others.
“I think what God must be”—if humans, who are fallible and sinful and broken, can show such love and tenderness and forgiveness; how much more can God be to her? Because she has seen a reflection of God in humans made in His image, she is now able to cry to Him. Before she may have been terrified of His judgement of her, but she now sees what God must be—only ten thousand times more loving and tender and forgiving, and then in Him she can find solace.
What I’m trying to say is that few people can see God visually, physically. And that’s why we need mirrors that reflect His glory and His goodness. We need to be those mirrors that give people a glimpse of what God must be, and then to let them feel free to cry out to Him. Otherwise people can only guess at God’s form. Is he a crotchety old man or a mean grouch? No; we must be images of God and let people peek into the unseen realm of what God must be.
If all of us who call ourselves Christians would just do this—strive to embody God’s moral characteristics of love and grace and holiness—how many more people would see Him in His true light and dare to pray to Him? Let me pose a challenge to you: embody Christ. Reflect Him.
And this is why everyone should read David Copperfield (Sorry, couldn’t resist).