It’s been exactly two weeks since our family landed in Ethiopia. It’s been a fantastic experience so far. People are friendly and the coffee is strong, so what’s not to like? Well, the rainy season is a bit tiresome but it will pass. Other than that there’s only one thing that has been tough. You see, there are beggars wherever you go, they even knock on car windows when the traffic slows down. The easiest way to deal with this issue is to ignore them, to turn away. But this breaks my heart. Every human being needs to be acknowledged and smiled upon. Even babies don’t grow emotionally healthy without receiving their caretakers’ smiles. How then can these beggars – especially small children – grow emotionally healthy when people don’t even look at them? And if you come to think of it, this is exactly why we need also God’s face to shine on us. Without him, we won’t grow spiritually healthy either.
My heart says of you, “Seek his face!”
Your face, Lord, I will seek.
Do not hide your face from me,
do not turn your servant away in anger;
you have been my helper.
Do not reject me or forsake me,
God my Savior.
Though my father and mother forsake me,
the Lord will receive me.
(Psalm 27:8-10, NIV)
Even in the benediction prayer (found in Numbers 6:24-26), we keep on asking for God to make his face shine on us. Because we do need God’s face to shine on us. Just as the first Corinthians chapter 13:12 says “For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.”
Why do we need God’s face…
Why then faces are so important? Because when we see from face to face we recognize each other. Because our face is the mirror of our soul. The face reflects the deepest essence and personality of each person. That’s why Jesus wants us to get to know his face and therefore his deepest essence.
After thinking about all this, I was particularly interested in the fact that Jonah got up to flee, as the 1938 Finnish Bible literally says, “from the face of the Lord” (Jonah:1:3).
God’s face represents his presence. We can try to flee God’s presence but he is everywhere. So we only fool ourselves if we try to run from God. I think, we only try to do that when we don’t understand why – or how much – we need God’s face to shine on us.
…to shine on us?
We need God more than we need air. Because he is the giver of every breath we take. But just as parents’ smile sustains their baby to grow emotionally healthy, so does God’s smile sustain our growth spiritually. We need God to provide us with everything we need to become what he has created us to be. We can’t but God can. And that is the blessed way, believe me
Too often we think we need to make something of ourselves. But that’s not how faith works. Faith looks to Jesus, the founder, and perfecter of our faith. So our task is to follow Jesus who will shine on us and in this ongoing relationship he will perfect our faith along the way. And we become spiritually healthy children of God.
What about the beggars in the streets of Addis Abeba? We are called to help them. It’s our duty as Christians to create change through development cooperation and mission work. The Christian message of hope, faith, and love changes societies and people. Let’s not turn away from suffering. Instead, let’s work for a better future for the least of these. And I’m sure God’s face will shine upon us all.
Thank you for wanting us to turn to you,
to ask you to shine on us.
We truly need you.
Thank you for not forsaking us for any reason.
Bless us according to your plan for us and
empower us to serve the least of these the way you want us to do.
In Jesus’ precious name,
Do you feel special to be wanted in God’s presence? I do. God wants us to know him and abide in him. So let’s not let anything keep us away. Instead, let’s pray, read the Word, and knock continually on heaven’s door. God is listening, guiding, helping, and empowering. He has a plan for us “to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do” (Eph.2:10). Let’s let God change the world through us. He can do so much more than we ever could. Be blessed, my fellow pilgrim, on your faith journey!