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Posts Tagged ‘face to face’

A few weeks ago, I had the privilege of driving a good friend to the airport.  She was returning to Turkey to work that she loves, and the strong possibility is that her friends and family will not see her for another two years or more.  It was a bittersweet moment when the time came for all of us who had gathered there to say goodbye – our friend’s heart is in Turkey, but it is also here with family and friends.

As soon as she disappeared through the entrance to the customs check area, our by now slightly teary group dispersed.  However, a few of us decided to stay on and move to a spot alongside a glass wall where passengers can be seen as they pass through a walkway leading to their respective departure gates.  And almost before we had settled ourselves, there she was again, smiling at us and waving, then turning for one final backward glance before disappearing from view.  We tried to communicate with her in various ways, blowing kisses and gesticulating wildly. I noticed too how other passengers were coming right up to the glass and placing their hands on it in an effort to reach out to those on the other side one more time.  We were glad we had stayed for this final farewell – but it wasn’t the same as being able to communicate freely, to speak and touch unhindered by the barrier between us.

As I thought about this experience later, I realised that sometimes this is how it is between God and me.  God is always there, wanting to communicate and have a close relationship with me, but sometimes these barriers spring up between us – barriers that I either deliberately put in place or just allow over time to grow bigger and bigger.  I want to talk things over with God heart to heart – and I truly want God to speak to me ‘face to face, as a man speaks with his friend’, as occurred with Moses (Exodus 33:11).  I want God to be intimately involved with all areas of my life – but for some crazy reason I distance myself behind some barrier or another. It might be that I don’t want to let go of something I know is spoiling that communication – perhaps anger or unforgiveness or even lack of trust. Or it might be that I just allow myself to become too busy or too tired or too focused on my writing or too concerned about preparing for speaking engagements, until that loving voice gets more and more indistinct and that wonderful light of God’s presence dims.  I know God is there as surely as my friend was there smiling at us from behind that glass wall – but I can’t hear what is being said or feel that restoring, encouraging, comforting touch that I know I need.

I don’t want to live like that. I don’t want to be alienated behind an impenetrable glass wall from the very one who breathes life and creativity and courage and strength into my spirit. There is a door in that wall, I believe – and Jesus is standing there.  He knocks on it, waiting for each one of us to open it and invite him in so we can relate deeply with him (Rev 3:20).

Is he there with you now, enjoying your company?

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For some reason, I can’t say I always enjoy phoning up people, even if they are well known to me.  Firstly, I don’t like the thought of interrupting them in whatever they are doing, but more importantly, I can’t always tell by the conversation that ensues, exactly how they are feeling.  Over the years, I’ve learnt to look at people’s faces and especially their eyes, to try to discern how they are actually travelling – whether they are tired or sad or worried or whether they are doing well and are at peace with the world.  I might come to the wrong conclusions, but at least it gives me much more of a clue than merely hearing someone’s voice on the phone. 

Of course the tone of our voice does often convey quite a bit  – I may pick up at least some degree of tiredness or discouragement or joy or excitement through a phone conversation.  On the other hand, meeting face to face with someone means we can not only see their expressions and reactions but also take note of actual body language.  And occasionally we can just sense in some way too, irrespective of what we see and hear, whether a person is bothered by something.  But beyond even that, I do believe God can give us insights on occasions into another’s heart so that we can help them move forward into greater wholeness.  I have experienced that in counselling with others and have also been on the receiving end myself of such ‘words of knowledge’ or whatever one might choose to call them.  I remember one occasion when I was sitting with a friend of mine who happens to be blind during a training course.  I was worried about something in the course, but hadn’t said anything.  I was simply sitting near her but not touching.  And of course she couldn’t see me.  Yet suddenly she said to me: It’s okay, Joey – you don’t have to worry about it!  To this day I can’t honestly say whether some sense or intuition, heightened by her blindness, caused her to have that insight, or whether God prompted her and gave her the words to say.  Knowing my friend, I suspect the latter, but either way it was a very comforting moment for me.

God can prompt us in this way because he is all-knowing, all-powerful and ever present.  He sees us ‘face to face’ every day of our lives, as it were – he knows my very thoughts and is ‘familiar with all my ways’, as Psalm 139:3 says.  And one day I too will have the amazing privilege of seeing him face to face and will understand so much more:

Now we see but a poor reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face.  Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known. (1 Corinthians 13:12)

That blows my mind.  How about you?

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