A very wise person once asked a question. She asked, “Have we become more focused on the Father’s hands than the Father’s face?”
That simple question propelled me to find out. In Psalm 27, David says that God told him, “Seek my face.” David responded, “Your face I seek.” God didn’t say, “Seek my hands, search for the power, the gifts, the miracles, the signs–seek those things.” No. Seek my face. I confess, more times than not, my prayers revolve around the hand of God. I often ask for healing, provision, power, etc. I want to see him shape me and mold me and change the world around me. Yes, his hands are strong and gentle. But he said, seek my face.
These three words lead to three questions. Why? How? And, most importantly, what is the face of God?
I’ve been on a journey to find those answers. I don’t pretend to have them fully but I do have a few insights that I hope will encourage you to begin your own journey of “seeking his face”. Few things are as compelling or rewarding. If you could see, really see, his face you would never want to look away. A thousand thoughts you think about your self-image, your surroundings, or your purpose would suddenly be irrelevant. You would begin to revel in the simple but ferocious love of your heavenly Father. You, as I, would be satisfied. You, as I, would find yourself in the undeserved and overwhelming position of sonship.
First, what. What is the face of God? The face of God is the expression of his heart.
Think about the last person you spoke to face to face. Was he or she happy or sad? Was he or she having a good day? If so, how did you know? Your face gives it away. Often times the best kept secrets spill out on the canvas of an excited face. A smile, a frown, a tight lip, a blush, a sideways glance–they all are speaking. And although some people show emotions much more than others through their facial expressions, even the best actors have to learn how to control the muscles underneath their stage make up.
God has a face. Remember, he told David, “Seek my face.” From blessings to prophecies to songs to documented conversations, the face of God is mentioned all throughout the Bible. Perhaps one of the most beautiful portions of scripture is found in Exodus 33 (NIV). Starting in verse 7: Now Moses used to take a tent and pitch it outside the camp some distance away, calling it the “tent of meeting”. Anyone inquiring of the Lord would go to the tent of meeting outside the camp…the Lord would speak to Moses face to face, as one speaks to a friend.
Face to face.
Pause for a moment. Close your eyes and imagine watching Moses walk towards the “tent of meeting”. Anticipation runs up your spine and your skin feels tingly. Yahweh is here. You watch him open the flap of the dusty tent and stoop to enter. The tent swallows his form and slowly you begin to see a thin trail of smoke appearing above the tent. It rapidly swells and becomes a churning, Living pillar of cloud. A storm. Yahweh.
Can you see it? Can you imagine it? This is the story of Moses and the face of God. So what is the face of God, you ask. Is it a pillar of cloud? Is it an intimate expression? Is it simply a blessing, a sign of benevolence? Or is it a consuming fire from which heaven and earth flee (Rev. 20:11)? Yes. It’s all of these things and so much more. The face of God is the expression of his heart.
There is another place where you can see his face. I was blind for far too long.
Let me backtrack. A year and a half ago I was at a meeting at Gateway House of Prayer. A man was speaking on “visitations”. He shared a detailed visitation from Jesus and prayed for many of us to have the same experience. My heart raced with the thought. Imagine REALLY seeing Jesus!
So I prayed. I knew God heard my prayer. And for some reason that I cannot remember, I was convinced I would see him, really see him, by the end of 2018. I even told a few friends this; I looked forward to this encounter with childlike anticipation. Fast forward more than a year. It was November 26th and I still had not seen, really really seen, God. I knelt before him one day and began to remind him. God. I want to see you. I really do. Remember what you said? This year is coming to an end and I have not seen you yet. Like, really really REALLY seen you…
And then God spoke to me. This thought crashed into my mind. You have seen me but have not known me. Jesus said something very similar to Philip in John 14:9. The very idea struck my heart deep inside. I knew he was right. He continued. Look around! I am in them. Look at them and find me. Notice the divine nature. Even in those so twisted, find me. Listen. In their story you will find my face. Do not be blind. This is the gift I’ve given you: love. Look into your brothers eyes and see me.
His words went deep.
Do you want to see the Father’s face? Open your eyes! He expresses his heart in many ways.
I like to imagine what his face would look like physically. Some people in the Bible tried to describe it in physical terms. They talk about white hair, burning eyes, etc. But remember, God is spirit. If you want to truly seek his face, you must look with spiritual eyes. This leads to how.
“Seek my face,” He said. You respond, “Your face I shall seek.”
How? Believe. Jesus said that all things are possible to him who believes. Let me digress and share a bit more of my journey in discovering the friendship of God…
“Bro, you should go on a date with Jesus,” my friend said one day. I smiled. This was almost two years ago in New Zealand. I had just begun to discern the voice of God. Deep down I wanted to really embrace Jesus as my best friend but I struggled knowing how to go about it. You should go on a date. The thought seemed odd. But what if? Curiosity compelled me. One night, I decided to try. There was a worship burn going on but I stepped outside. The crisp New Zealand air paled in comparison to the stars above my head. I sat on the ground and looked up. Hey Jesus. Um. I don’t know how to do this but… I really want to be best friends. How do we do that? In the quiet, a thought brushed my ears. Best friends share secrets. I chuckled.
He is still my best friend.
Some of you will not believe that God spoke to me then or ever. That’s ok. Some of you will believe me. You will say, wow. That is awesome, Tim. For you. But I don’t “see” God that way. I understand. And I weep deep inside.
What if it was true? What if you, right now, could stand before Jesus as Moses did? What if you, like David, would seek his face and find it? You have only to believe. The face of the Father is towards his children. Ask the Holy Spirit that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in his holy people and his incomparably great power for us who believe (Ephesians 1:18-19 NIV). This is how you are able to seek, and find, the Father’s face: believe that you have been created for friendship with God and believe that the blood of Jesus has enabled you to enter Father’s presence. You will soon see.
Seeing the face of Father changes everything. Literally. You no longer need approval from those around you. The approval of God far outweighs the approval of man. You need no longer have bad days. The hard ones are opportunities to see his patience. You no longer wonder if he will go with you, protect you, or provide for you. You don’t doubt that he loves you. Why? Because you see his face. Everywhere. You see it in the endless blessings, the supernatural peace, the mindblowing dreams. Yes, there are countless reasons to seek the Father’s face. But at the end of the day…
I seek his face because, well, I’m in love with him. I am. Since the day I first recognized his voice, I’ve been transfixed. Captivated. I seek his face because he is good. Beautiful. Not very long ago he told me he was delighted in me. He said my smile is as wide as the sky. Look up right now! There! Horizon to horizon, that is the extent of his joy. And why is he smiling?
Because of you.
Yes, he says you have stolen my heart with one glance of your eyes. (Song of Songs 4:9 NIV) Will you close your eyes again? Will you let him whisper those words over you? He wants to see your face, the expression of your heart. He wants face to face friendship with you. Maybe this seems too good to be true but you cannot out-dream Infinite love. You cannot out-imagine the One who created imagination, can you?! Of course not!
When I was little, I didn’t seek the face of God because I was scared of him. I didn’t want to hear his voice because I was afraid of what he would say. I was terrified of his punishment. Hell. I wished I wasn’t a human when I was only six or seven. At least animals won’t be judged. Seriously. Fast-forward ten years and I didn’t seek his face simply because I didn’t really believe I could. How could I, sinful and dirty as I was, enjoy friendship with God?
Maybe you find yourself facing the same questions I did. I can’t answer them for you. But I can tell you where to find the answer. Jesus. Study his life and his words. He came to reveal the Father. Or so he said. If you want to see the Father, the only way is through Jesus. Will you come with me as a little child before your perfect Father? Will you pray this simple prayer with me?
“Father, I long to see your face. I’m sorry I haven’t believed that you want my friendship. I’m sorry I’ve hidden behind so many bushes just like Adam in the garden. Maybe I’ve just been looking at your hands and seeking signs and wonders. Father, I’m not going to do that any more! I turn from unbelief and fear. Your face I will seek. Thank you for opening my eyes. I want to be your friend, just like Moses.”