January 2024

A Bright Face

The Church service was in the last quiet moments after the message had been delivered and people were lingering in the Presence. The music was offering a buffer to soft conversations between the few who were beginning to make the shift toward leaving the sanctuary. I had moved quietly to sit just to the side and behind her so as not to interrupt whatever internal prayer she might be engaged in. Watching her face for a moment, I offered my own prayer of gratitude for this beloved daughter who brings so much joy to those around her. When she finally lifted her head and opened her eyes, I touched her lightly on the arm, and she turned to give me her attention. Her eyes lit up and a big smile transformed her face. “Hi, mom.” I possessed a moment of sheer wonder that she should be so instantly and genuinely glad to see me. This is love, I thought. The warmth of affection that gladdens the heart and seeks no reward. It is, in fact, one of the treasures He intended for us when He shed abroad eternal love in our hearts.

How like God to give us these glimpses of His own nature. He, too, takes great delight in His own adopted sons and daughters. We are not a burden to Him. He doesn’t sigh inwardly when we come into His presence. He showers us with blessing. He strengthens us with joy. He loves us with an everlasting love. When we turn our face to Him, He is truly glad to see us.

And what of my response to Him? Do I brighten at His coming? Do I look eagerly into His face to know how things are? Am I poised to receive what He will say? Do I truly desire to follow where His words may take us in conversation?

We were not meant to be alone. His call to us is to continually abide in Him, continually believe Him, continually know Him. And in so being, our lives produce the sweet fragrance of communion with Him. But, you say, what if I turn away? What if darkness hides His face? What if my own choices put me in danger? And I say, He promises never to leave you. Consider this truth in Scripture.

Where shall I go from your Spirit?
    Or where shall I flee from your presence?
If I ascend to heaven, you are there!
    If I make my bed in Sheol, you are there!
If I take the wings of the morning
    and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea,
even there your hand shall lead me,
    and your right hand shall hold me.
If I say, “Surely the darkness shall cover me,
    and the light about me be night,”
even the darkness is not dark to you;
    the night is bright as the day,
    for darkness is as light with you. (Psalm 139:7-12 ESV)

Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
    I will fear no evil,
for you are with me;
    your rod and your staff,
    they comfort me. (Psalm 23:4 ESV)

…fear not, for I am with you;
    be not dismayed, for I am your God;
I will strengthen you, I will help you,
    I will uphold you with my righteous right hand. (Isaiah 41:10 ESV)

Fear not, for I have redeemed you;
    I have called you by name, you are mine.
When you pass through the waters, I will be with you;
    and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you;
when you walk through fire you shall not be burned,
    and the flame shall not consume you. (Isaiah 43:1b-2 ESV)

Be of good cheer, dear One. The Lord our God has overcome the world, and He is walking with us as we journey in this valley of shadows that will soon see His return.

Until next week, beloved, let your countenance brighten as you turn to see the One who won’t let go.

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