Posts Tagged ‘God’s face’

I want to know about God’s face.

“Hear, O Lord, when I cry with my voice, And be gracious to me and answer me.  When You said, “Seek My face,” my heart said to You,“Your face, O Lord, I shall seek.” Do not hide Your face from me . . . “ [Psalm 27:7-9a, NAS]

First of all, as we all know, God (or the Eternal One as God is called in the Voice translation), is not human but fully Spirit, operating in the Universe both of it and in it, above it and below it.

In Exodus 33:20, God tells Moses that no human can see God’s face and live. I used to think that a glimpse would kill a person, but clearly, that’s not the whole story since in Exodus 33:11, it is written that God spoke to Moses face to face.

Detail from a beaded quilt by "Kitty," based on God's eye design.

Detail from a beaded quilt by “Kitty,” based on God’s eye design.

All right, there’s no surprise here. We are dealing with figurative language. It’s not God who has a face but human. And the place of face in relationships is meaningful to us, right? It is important, when having a conversation with someone, to look them in the eye, to interact face to face. It is the face that reveals the most about a person (unless they have schooled their faces, like a poker player, to reveal nothing). But most of us common folk expose ourselves through the face either by what we speak, by the way our eyes register understanding (or lack thereof), the color and heat of the skin, or the flare of our nostrils. Most of our senses are connected to the physical face.

Poem after poem is written about the face, the eyes, the lips and all that is revealed. The eyes are often called the window to the soul.

When the face of another is turned away from us, a message is being spoken (usually not a good one). Usually, the person is hiding what he/she is thinking or feeling. When turned away, the person is withholding information.

So, what do I imply from this verse? God touches my heart and spirit within and says, “Seek to know me” . . . that is what it means to seek God’s face. God is indicating that intimacy is possible as well as revelation and understanding. Look for God among us. Our answers from God come to us through experience with God, through “God’s face.” But, if we are insensitive to God (just as we might be insensitive to the human face), we could be missing the message.

Help me Father to seek your face, to know you, to learn of of you, to see you.

For fun, here’s a little online test that tests our “emotional intelligence” with people. What do you learn from it?


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What is God’s face? Most people interpret this phrase to mean God’s presence. But, in general, God’s presence is not hidden. God is with us always. The question is whether we recognize God’s presence and even more, that part of God that could be called the face, the communicative part.

Psalm 27:8
My heart says of you, “Seek his face!”
Your face, LORD, I will seek.

The face has the key parts for communication: eyes to see, nose to sense and smell, mouth to speak and taste, and ears to hear. To seek God’s face is to seek connection.

How often, as a parent, do we demand our children look at us as we’re speaking? We want to be sure we have eye contact. We want to see them see us. We want to confirm that we are being heard.

The metaphor of God’s face is the same thing. God wants to be sure we are paying attention.

Some years ago, I was driving across 695, the beltway around Baltimore, late in the evening. The traffic was at a standstill, probably due to an accident further ahead. I hate traffic jams, the slow stop and start tweaks every nerve. As we slowly crept toward an exit, the car ahead of me put on his turn signal. In my desire to escape, I got it into my head that this car was getting off the road to take a shortcut and get back on the beltway on the other side of the accident. Stupid, right? So, I followed this complete stranger off the beltway and followed him. Of course, anyone can predict the outcome. Within ten minutes, he pulled into his driveway and I was stuck in a part of the city I did not know.

I left the road I knew. The beltway had not moved. I was the one who was not seeking the way back to 695, at night, with no map and no GPS. I was lost because I chose to take the exit. I didn’t like the circumstances I was in at the time.

Eventually, I found a rather unsavory gas station and was directed back to the beltway. Of course, I ended up returning to the highway at the exact same point I left it. My little excursion inside the beltway was a good lesson.

I know God’s presence. I have experienced the comfort and the power. But sometimes, I get caught up in my own way, my own timetable, my own interpretation of what should be happening. I want a shortcut.

To seek God’s face requires my full attention, my time, and my commitment. It’s not a mystery.

In Brian McLaren’s book, Naked Spirituality: a Life with God in Twelve Simple Words, the first word is Here and the prayer that accompanies that word is “I am here, God is here, I am here with God.” This is the beginning of acknowledging and breathing in God’s Presence.

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Art by Joseph Liner

Thirty two years ago, I responded to a nation-wide call to Christians around the country to fast and pray in Washington, D.C. II Chronicles 7:14 was the keystone verse to that call and that day became known as Washington for Jesus. I arrived with national hope for healing but left with disappointment.

II Chronicles 7:14
“. . . if my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land.”

I had taken the call seriously. I traveled a long way, prepared myself to fast, and meditated on the scriptures. In my imagination, the Mall would be filled with prayer like in the days of David and Solomon and the Shekinah glory would fall. Instead, there was amplified praise music and prayer from the stage area, political rhetoric, picnics, vendors selling “Jesus Junk,” street proselytizing, and tracts, tracts, tracts. Hope was being directed to a political agenda and not to the instruction and promises God had given to Solomon.

Granted, it is much more difficult to turn a country’s focus. Change begins at the grass roots level, it begins with the individual.

So, here are the steps to healing that I have gleaned from this scripture. This is where I must begin:

  1. Know who you are. God is speaking to the “people called by my name.” Am I a child of God? I am. I have accepted God’s authority over my life.
  2. Humble yourself. As long as I believe my way is the best way, I can interfere with the divine plan. Humility with others is tough; with God, moreso.
  3. Pray. There are thousands of ways to pray, from casual chat to ritualized liturgy. They are all useful as long as the heart is bent toward God.
  4. Seek God’s face. A little different from prayer, but certainly an aspect of prayer, this seeking implies expectation. If I am told to seek then I am expected to find. The key is understanding that God’s face is reflected in a myriad of ways including the faces of human beings.
  5. Turn aside from the old ways and habits. This is probably the most difficult step if it’s done out of order. It’s not just a quarter turn, it’s a 180. It’s a decision. I don’t even have to walk in that new direction, just turn, and God will show up.

These are steps that will bring healing to any situation. And physical healing? I don’t know, perhaps that too. Perhaps, as the heart and soul are healed, the body follows. But I can’t speak with any authority about that, I have not yet grappled with serious illness.

The promises are threefold if we follow the five steps: God will hear, God will forgive, and God will heal.

I am reminded of the four friends who broke through a ceiling to lower their paralyzed friend down to Jesus [Mark 2:3-5] and it’s revealing to me that Jesus forgave his sins first.

I don’t know how to bring a nation around, but I believe we could start with our own lives. The “land” is basic, it’s the foundation of our Earth. What is foundational in our daily lives?

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