I’ve been struggling lately, not with faith, but with one specific aspect of it, the face of God.
A few specifics of my struggle to see the face of God
A recent death in my extended family has triggered a choice. After many deaths among my family and friends, some rather tragic, the worst stint being 12 (13 if you count a beloved pet) within about 3 years, I sometimes find it hard to allow grief to take hold. The choice? I’m sick of mourning so I’d rather not, but you have to let it out to a certain extent. The question is how much? But that’s not the point of the article, so I’ll move on.
My kid is waking up every 15-60 minutes all night yelling as if she’s having nightmares. I’d been praying about it, but lately having some loss of confidence in that prayer. Maybe I needed a boost, a reminder of how many times prayer has helped us. I’ll get to that in a bit.
The deeper anyone gets into Christianity, the more the enemy wants to take us off track. Much of it is beyond our control. There are many aspects of our lives that are incredibly difficult. But to add to it, out of pure exhaustion not rebellion, I’d recently denied a few divine directions to do things like read the bible at certain times. While some hardships are not up to us, some have come from my biting my own finger (I’ll also explain that one in a bit).
My faith is not at stake. But, as another wave of turmoil comes in, my relationship with God has recently been respectfully under the magnifying glass. And yesterday morning while praying, I told him I’m distraught, that I see the face of the enemy everywhere. But I’m worried about not really knowing God’s face. I told him I was worried about recent events and where they are taking us. I told him I just wished I could see him more.
God reacted… all day
As I finished my prayer yesterday morning and left the room I was in, I sat down near the TV. On that TV were two things:
Just the audio of my “Gathering the Holy Spirit” playlist.
An image of Grace and my daughter that I shot when Jewel was 10 months old. To be specific, this one…
Sorry. Image is not available in writer's photography portfolio.
This is possibly the most dramatic photo I’ve ever shot of her. There’s a shadow of what looks similar to thorns across her face. It reminds me of the crown worn by Christ on the cross. It reminds me that my daughter, like me, is part of the body of Christ. The expression on her face is full of so many of her personality traits. Grace has such a loving look toward Jewel. But mainly, the drama in the photo, for me, it’s about Jewel’s eyes. I see the light of God shining through them in what almost looks like some sort of galaxy or celestial event.
And today, as I sat down to look at that image, The words crossed my mind, “Can you look at that picture and tell me you don’t see the face of God?”. My eyes welled up a bit and my throat started to lump as I just stared for a while. It triggered a flood of memories and thoughts of what my little girl means to me. And as I unfold her story in a later article, you’ll be able to find out what a miracle she is.
A few hours later I was working in the hotel lobby. A man came in, in passing, waiting for a shuttle to the airport. I’d seen him before and had only wished I’d said more than a few sentences to him. He just seemed like someone I’d like to talk with.
Fortunately we had a decent conversation. And in it he spoke about politics and one thing he thought many voters should know, he said “Don’t bite your finger and complain that it hurts.”. He said it multiple times. At one point he told me he wanted me to remember that saying. He also asked me if I liked it and, of course, I said yes (and meant it). At another point he asked me, “Will you remember that saying?”. Just after that, he kindly ended the conversation, making it clear that he had just enough time for some prayer, which he did out loud right near me.
Toward the end of my night, I was digging through a website for songs to add to my playlist. Mostly I guide that process myself, but somehow I accidentally came across my two newest additions. One is called “Raise a Hallelujah” and is all about what prayer did for a little boy who was dangerously ill. Lyrics include:
“I raise a hallelujah, in the presence of my enemies
I raise a hallelujah, louder than the unbelief
I raise a hallelujah, my weapon is a melody
I raise a hallelujah, heaven comes to fight for me”
The other was “House on a hill” and sounds like a reminder from God that he’s here for us. Lyrics include:
“Allow Me to introduce Myself again
I was with you every place you've ever been
I'm the One that held you when you couldn't stand
If you're wondering who can heal your brokenness
I can, I can, I can”
Did you catch all that?
In a previous article, The Bible - What is it and how do I Read?, I said God often speaks to my family and I in uncanny ways. Yesterday was a good example. If you don’t know exactly what I mean, let me sum it up:
I was losing confidence in prayer. In an unusual way for me, I “happened” across a powerful video that directly addressed that.
I’d recently dropped the ball on some of what I was supposed to be doing as a Christian. In return, there were consequences. Along comes a man in passing who repeats and asks me to remember “Don’t bite your finger and complain that it hurts.”.
I was feeling a bit distant from God. I told him that, then within hours, in the same unusual way as with the other song, I “happened” across a second song that says things like, “Allow Me to introduce Myself again. I was with you every place you've ever been."
You could isolate these moments, slap on the “Coincidence” label and say something like “this guy overanalyzes”. But this is not an isolated thing. Grace and I have things like this happen regularly, things that are even more unusual than yesterday. It’s another example of how God uses people to speak to us. When we start to recognize these types of moments as what they are, God communicating, then we’re reminded that the face of God is everywhere.
Don't you want more? You should have more :)
The Bible - What is it and how do I Read? God often speaks in many ways. The Bible is, by God's design, the manual to life.
Can we Really Talk to God? More about how God communicates and a bit more about how my daughter got to this world.
Sing From the Center of the Prison When any part of your faith is challenged, take a cue from one of the guys who worked with the Son of God.
The playlist I'm talking about... honestly, being artists and musicians ourselves, it's a struggle for Grace and I to find creative, artistic Christian music that's not been cookiecutter'd (yeah, it's a word now). It's taken us months to put this list together. And while some of it just barely passes, some of it is just plain "Wow!".
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