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What’s a Theophany and What’s It Got To Do With Me?

Theophany? So what? And oh, by the way, what the heck is a theophany? Well, in short, it’s a Jesus sighting. Jesus sighting, you mean like Elvis? Ah no, Elvis has left the building—for real–for good.

But according to some, many actually, there are a few recorded Jesus sightings in the Old Testament. Mentions of the Son of Man and the Son of God could be examples. But that’s old—older than me, older than dirt old.

So what? So the other day I’m feeling like crap. Again. Surprised? Anyway it’s 5:15—in the morning. Yup, that 5:15. I’m at a men’s exercise group, F3, and it’s volunteer. Seems like anything at 5:15 should be court-ordered. But there I am and out of the darkness this guy, tall and lean, reaches over, puts his hand around my shoulder and says, “Man, I’ve really missed you.”

And I saw Jesus.

It came from an imperfect being, a guy who has some really big stuff to work through. Yet in his smile, his touch, his thoughtfulness, his selflessness—I saw Him. So, the rest of the group, well it sucked. I know, you expected to hear I was on cloud nine, I warmed up, I was a bright light, I worked my butt off. But I didn’t, I did my time, I left soon after the others were gathered around coffee and muffins. And I slipped away in the darkness. Quiet but affected.

I couldn’t shake it. The image of that huge athlete, taking a moment, reaching out his wounded hand. Theophany? Maybe, maybe not. Maybe not in the literal sense but maybe in the intentional sense. (If you’re confused, I just made up intentional sense) But what I mean is I believe God is real. Jesus is real.

And He takes time to reach out and touch us. We just need to be looking for it.

If you have read me before then you have heard it before, “God’s world reveals itself when everything you own is on your back, and your only concern is the next white blaze.”

Reminds me of the story of the drowning man clinging to a tree. First a guy with an extra life jacket, then another with a row boat and finally someone throws him a rope. All rejected because the guy was waiting for God to save him. He drowns and gets to the pearly gates. “God where were you when I needed you?” “What are you talking about,” God exclaims, “I sent you a life jacket, a row boat, and a rope!”

So today, I get up late, I miss my group, I am surrounded by drywall dust, torn up floors, and I squeeze past furniture misplaced in the hallway. My head hurts, I hear my wife struggling with another closet shelf that collapses above her. Life. Agggh.

Yesterday evening I worked on a chopper with a mechanic. I’m happy. I see his two sons hanging out and immediately I think of my two sons, both mechanics, one in Texas, and one in heaven. Life. Agggh again. It won’t let me go.

And yet here I am and that image comes floating back to me. That bruise hand in the darkness reaching out to me.

Theophany? I know so.

On advice, I’m short. But encouragement I have, and it’s this: unload all that extra crap in your pack. Look up at that small white blaze, faded on an aging tree. Forget the highway, the shuttle, forget someone coming along lifting you up and carrying you up the hill. It doesn’t work like that.

See the blaze, take a step unencumbered, see Jesus.

You’re one step closer to Him, and to your child in heaven waiting for you. It’s been too long and it was just yesterday. It screwed with your mind, paralyzed your movements, and pains your heart. It has filled your senses, it took his, hers, and your life too. But along the way you will get a chance to reach out your small weak hand and touch some grumpy old guy. And today you have made a difference.

Thank you from a grumpy old guy.

I am a Clinical Psychologist, a former Captain in the Navy, and I lost my son in 2014. So I took to the wilderness and found that God’s world opens up when everything you need is on your back and your only concern is the next white blaze.

Hey, I wrote a book, When Sunday Smiled, and now it has its own inspirational song! It’s for all kinds of people who have lost their way in this world. Check out both on my website,

What’s a Theophany and What’s It Got To Do With Me?

Andy Davidson

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APA Reference
Davidson, A. (2020). What’s a Theophany and What’s It Got To Do With Me?. Psych Central. Retrieved on May 27, 2020, from


Last updated: 1 Feb 2020
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