Face to Face
We've been navigating a series on the Holy Spirit through most of this summer. Several weeks ago I talked about the Spirit as Presence. I talked a lot about the human need to "face" and "be faced." Scripture is filled with references to God's people seeking God's face. Internally, eternally, we are made to face and be faced - with other humans beings, but ultimately with God.
I've always wondered if this is what the Psalmist references when he writes, "But you, Lord, are a shield around me, my glory, the one who lifts my head high" (Psalm 3:3). The image of a person's face downcast, for whatever reason it might be so, and then of God gently placing his hand under the chin and slowly lifting it so that that person's face is looking into God's own...it compels me.
You can listen to the message here - scroll down to the message titled, "Coming Face to Face."
My good friend Isaac Anderson sent me a quote he read from Miroslav Volf that speaks to this very thing.
"I have always been fascinated by the phrase 'The Lord make his face shine upon you.' God's blessing, God's protection, God's peace, God's grace - all part of that same benediction - are great goods, and if I had to choose between them and God's shining face, I might well opt for them. But God's shining face outdoes them all. For God's blessing, protection, peace, and grace concern things that we possess, do, and suffer, while God's shining face concerns our very being. It stands for God's sheer delight that we exist and live before him. Yet I rarely 'see' God's face shining upon me, and given that I am an inveterate sinner, it is not easy to know exactly why God's face should shine on me."
Volf's right - it is not easy to know exactly why God's face should shine on me, apart from grace. Grace. How little we apprehend it. And yet...
Richard Rohr writes:
"Most myths include belief either in a benevolent universe, a hostile universe, or one that is indifferent. Until we accept that ours is a radically benevolent universe, we are not Christians...We cannot stay in the indifferent universe for long. It will soon deteriorate into the hostile universe. Instead, if we are lucky, we will finally meet what we call grace, the notion that someone is for me more than I am for myself."
Face to face with Grace, the lifter of my head.