I grew up with a religious approach to everything regarding God. I was used to rituals that mystified God and that placed Him in an unattainable category. I pictured God being on a cloud far away. I also believed I wasn’t worthy of being close to God. I felt like He was too distant and not interested in me, little me. I thought He had better things to do than to look at me and spend time with me. I tried to be pious and I tried to please Him. As a kid I would pray before bed and sometimes I would cry because my prayers didn’t seem sincere enough. I experienced a lot of guilt when I couldn’t feel compassion for others or when I wasn’t able to show gratitude. I also didn’t think highly of myself and I was convinced that God couldn’t love me all that much. Something tangible and important was missing in my vision of God. I had the wrong ideas, the wrong impressions and the wrong thoughts about God. I was crushed by religion and chained by its mandates and its rules. To me God was not synonymous to freedom. He was hard to satisfy and impossible to reach. I was wrong. I was blind. I was misled.
The face of God I was exposed to was a mask. It masked the reality of who He truly was. I did my best to adore a masked imitation that had no mercy and no love. I couldn’t see the face of beauty. I could only see the face of shame and punishment. Who was that God that the Bible talked about? How come He wasn’t present in my church? How come my church community was more interested in gaining than in giving even though the God of the Bible was about giving His life for us? I set out on a quest for the real God. I made a promise to myself that I would get to know the real God. I was clued in as a teenager about the source of the true God. The source was Jesus. To see God’s face, I needed to search for Jesus. I was 14 when my heart opened up to the Lord. At that age I was vulnerable because of how much I had been battered by life and I was willing to try anything to get out of my misery. Jesus sounded like a good idea. Jesus sounded like a promise of a new day. He seemed to symbolize freedom and hope. I saw hope. I learned that there was much more to God than a series of rituals and shaming principles. I saw hope for the first time in my life. Life was more than I had imagined. Jesus was the One who could give me that something more and I was hungry for Him. I wanted to know Him and I desired to see the face of God.
I do believe that God is the One who came to me. I don’t see it as an act on my part. I was opened but He did the opening. He touched my heart. He knew where to find me and how to impact me. God had mercy on me. God felt love for me and to this day I strongly believe that Love (with a capital L) saved my life. God decided to show me His face. He deemed it necessary for Him to reveal Himself to me. The lies had to stop. The mask had to come off. The truth had to be told. Pure love had to come in and plug the holes of deceit and fear. God showed His face and He changed the vision I had of Him. How did He do it? What did He look like? He did it through His presentation of salvation to me. I saw what salvation was all about. It was first and foremost about unconditional love. The people who introduced me to God introduced me to Jesus, the King of kings. They depicted the portrait of love. Jesus was almighty and powerful but He was above all full of mercy and grace. I was told about His sacrifice. I was told that my personal sacrifices to make myself pious had to stop. I was told that fear had to stop. I was told that there was no fear in perfect love. Perfect love was described to me in a way that I had never envisioned before. It was as if God were telling me that my life was about to change and He was going to give me proof of His love for me.
For the first time I heard “I love you, son.” I heard it every time I opened my eyes in the morning and His presence was there. He showed me that He couldn’t leave me. He showed me that He didn’t punish me. He opened my eyes and He gave me a new eyesight. I started walking by the eyesight of faith and I gave up walking by sight of the natural. I was given glimpses into the supernatural and I was led by the Spirit of the living God. The God I had known before was dead. The God I embraced once I accepted Jesus was full of life and love. I can gladly say that God has continued to show me His face by demonstrating His ability to be God. He will do it for you. He can do it for anyone. He can show you what He is capable of and blow you away by His ways. He is faithful. He is not a liar. He is absolutely amazing! God always knows what He is doing! Seek His face all the time. You will see the beauty of His kindness and the reflection of His goodness.
Suggested reading: Psalm 139:16-17; Psalm 94:14; 1 Timothy 2:3-4