I feel it when Heidi speaks to me with words of endearment. I sense it when I see the sparkle in my daughter's eyes. I notice it when a friend walks with me, and we enjoy each other's company. I am aware of it in my small groups as men gather to share their stories. What am I feeling here? What are we all feeling here? The power of face-to-face.
So much of how we understand ourselves comes from something so common and yet so defining, the human face. We sense there delight or rejection, respect or apathy, commendation or shame, connection or division. It's not too bold a statement to make: our very lives are shaped by the looks on the faces of others. And the reverse is also true. We have such power in the looks we give to others, reviving their hearts or bruising them instead.
But take one more step here. What is the power of face-to-face with God? The answer given here in the Scriptures is both arresting and inviting. One place to start is the blessing Aaron was to put on all the Israelites: “The Lord make his face shine upon you and be gracious to you” (Num. 6:25). The face of God is not just an interesting footnote in the Bible. It is the summation of all the blessings God wants to give us. For in the face is the heart, and in the heart is the connection. God wants his face to shine on us in Christ, as the warm October rays shine through the cool air of fall (see II Cor. 4:6). In the sunshine of that face, we are to be built up in his grace and delight. But there is more:
“The Lord turn his face toward you and give you peace” (vs. 26). Instead of turning away, he intentionally lifts his face and turns it toward us so that we can see how he sees us. We begin to feel how he feels toward us in Christ, beloved sons and daughters, whom he enjoys and wants to embrace. Our whole sense of identity and self-understanding becomes transformed in the look of his face. And the result is that elusive treasure, sought by so many, found by so few, peace—peace with God, with oneself, and with others.
So today when you look at someone, remember the power of face-to-face.
And then remember the face of the Father.