There’s this picture of Jesus that I love. It’s been in my brother’s room for as long as I can remember. Even between switching rooms, moving houses, and hanging posters of famous rappers and sports icons, this painting has remained a constant on his bedroom wall.
Growing up Catholic, we’ve always had crucifixes hanging around the house, but this picture of Jesus was different. He wasn’t in agonizing pain, hanging on a cross, or looking weak and beat up with a crown of thorns around his head. No, this picture is of the face of Jesus. Simply Jesus, looking just as he might if you were to look into his eyes along the sea of Galilee during the years he spent with his disciples. His eyes are peaceful, friendly, and steady. These inviting eyes that captivate a desire in your heart to know this man was such a contrast to all of the other ways I grew up imagining him.
For whatever reason, with an empty house and an uneventful day, I decided that I’d like to draw this face of Jesus to have on my own bedroom wall. With old big band music playing throughout the house, I set out to recreate this face on a blank piece of paper with nothing but a pencil and an eraser. Blindly sketching in inexperience, I saw the face of Jesus start to take place before me. After staring for hours into these eyes that were taking shape before my very own, I noticed the desire in me grow to really see the face of Jesus. With fire in his eyes, speaking of the intense longing and passion for our hearts, I set the pencil down and dreamed of this becoming a reality.
Mike Bickle gave a talk the other night about Jesus’ eyes of fire. He talked about how we get to know someone by getting to know their face. The expressions, mostly found in the eyes of another, give us such a revelation into the desires of their heart. He talked about how knowing the eyes of Jesus, seeking the face of Jesus, would bring about greater revelation of the knowledge of God, ushering us into a deeper intimacy with him.
“When you said, “Seek my face”, my heart said to you, “Your face, O Lord, I shall seek” – Psalm 27:8
Up until this point in the book of Psalms, David had been seeking the hand of the Lord. He was seeking his hand of action for deliverance from his enemies, his hand of blessing, and his hand of protection. The Lord, in his goodness, wasn’t content with David just seeking his hand, but desired that David would know him – really know him – that he would seek his face.
So many of us have it backwards, we seek the hand of the Lord – his intervention in our circumstances – but we don’t seek the face of the Lord. God wants us to have both, to behold his face and his hand. We need to know the man of whose hand we’re holding.
My heart said to you, “your face, I will seek”…
I’ve been stuck in Song of Solomon 2 these past couple of weeks. In this chapter, the young woman’s lover says to her, “Rise up my darling! Come away with me my fair one!”. Just like how this man calls out for the one he loves to come and be near, the Lord is calling out for our hearts. Later in the chapter, the young man says to the one he loves, “My dove is hiding behind the rocks, behind an outcrop on the cliff. Let me see your face; let me hear your voice. For your voice is pleasant, and your face is lovely.”
There’s this exchange of our hearts desiring to see the face – to know the heart – of the one we love, and his desire to see ours.
I sat there, taking a break from drawing, with all of the last couple of weeks stirring in my heart. As I thought about my desire for the increase of encounters with the face of Jesus, I was reminded of Moses and the unique encounters he had with the Living God.
I’ve always loved how Moses went up the mountain to spend time with the Lord and came down with his face shining bright from the light of God’s countenance. He was radiant with the glory of the Lord, just from being so close to him. I want that…
I continued to let my mind wander. Moses had this unique relationship with the Lord. The Israelites didn’t encounter God in the intimate way that Moses did, but it wasn’t because the Lord didn’t want them too. Looking back through the story, you see that Moses grew up as royalty in the palace of the king of Egypt with such a different mentality than his relatives who were slaves in that land. He lived a free life with a royal mindset, going and living freely, while the Israelites lived an oppressed life of slavery. I just think of the different perspectives that were shaped in the hearts of these two examples of people because of their upbringing and free or enslaved circumstances.
Encountering the Lord in the way that Moses did, wasn’t happening for the Israelites, not because it wasn’t possible, but because they refused to repent – to be transformed in their mindsets to come into agreement with God’s perspective – and believe His promises to care for them. Abandoning their slavery mindset and embracing their new identity as the Lord’s people hindered them from walking into the Promised Land – into the desires of their heart – and left them missing out on so much more from the Lord.
“Oh, return to me, for I have paid the price to see you free!” – Isaiah 44:22
Didn’t they see that they were free? Didn’t they understand? They were already free, so BE free! But I thought about this an wondered how much we’re missing out on from the Lord, from knowing His face, from encountering Him, because we haven’t fully abandoned our old mindsets? Like the Israelites, are we wandering around, asking the Lord to bring us into the Promised Land, but yet we can’t let go of our old way of thinking enough to actually walk into it? Do we really believe the promises in the Bible, or are we refusing to go deeper into the things of God, because of our old slavery mindset that tells us we’re not “there” yet – not free yet – not deserving of the royal life yet?
He has made the way. He will be found by us. Lets not circle the same stupid mountain in the desert for forty years because we can’t let go enough to be transformed. We’re the ones hiding behind the wall. Instead, lets be like Moses, living under the new name of royalty and freedom we’ve been given in expectation for the things of God.
“I publicly proclaim bold promises. I do not whisper obscurities in some dark corner. I would not have told the people of Israel to seek me if I could not be found.” – Isaiah 45:19
You, rend your hearts.