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Posts Tagged ‘seeing God face to face’

Do you remember those ‘Choose Your Own’ children’s adventure books from years ago? If you as the reader wanted the story to take a certain twist, then you were instructed to turn to a particular page and follow the thread of your own choosing from there on. If you wanted, you could even go back and follow a different trail to a different outcome. What fun! Multiple possibilities for a satisfactory ending at your fingertips.

But what if a book you were reading had no actual ending? What if you were reading along happily, enjoying the book so much that you couldn’t put it down, only to discover those last few pages holding that crucial final resolution to the story were missing? Imagine how annoying that would be!

This very thing happened to a friend of mine recently. In fact, this friend was reading a copy of my own latest novel, The Inheritance! Worse than that, it was a copy I myself had given her as a thank you gift for her kind hospitality during a recent interstate trip. Picture my dismay, then, when she emailed to tell me what had happened!

I hastily posted a replacement copy to my friend to ease her frustration. But I also thought of all those people who have already bought a copy. What if this wasn’t a one-off fluke? What if there were others who would discover the story ended abruptly in mid-sentence? Yet, so far, no one else has complained of any missing pages to me or my publisher. I also checked through any open boxes of my own supplies of this novel, but, in the end, decided all I could do was try to check each copy I personally sell in future. As for bookstore sales, I hope anyone who does find those last pages missing will speedily return their copy to the store.

But this whole alarming event caused me to think about other ‘ends of stories’ in our lives. We live with so much uncertainty, don’t we? We don’t know exactly how our day will unfold when we get up in the morning. We don’t know what the week or month or year ahead will contain. We may think we do, but things often have a habit of turning out differently from what we expected. Yet we know for sure who does know the end of the story—both our own personal story and that of the whole world. And our God, with great grace, has also given us glimpses in Scripture of how things will unfold. We know, for example, that one day we will see Jesus face to face (1 Cor 13:12). One day, Jesus will return and take us to live with him forever in the place he has prepared for us (Jn 3:16; 14:3) where there will be no more tears (Rev 7:16-17). And one day, having finished the race and kept the faith, we too will be welcomed into God’s presence.

Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day—and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing. 2 Tim 4:8

That’s one perfect story ending I’m very much looking forward to. How about you?

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It’s fun, isn’t it, waiting to meet someone you’ve met only via email? Will they look anything like you thought they would? Will they be younger or older? Will the personalities you suspect they have from the way they write be reflected in their faces?

Recently, I had the privilege of reading fifty pages written by three female authors before we met at a Writers’ Fair. They wrote in vastly different styles, which soon had me trying to picture what each of them might be like. Their personal emails gave me a bit more of a clue, but there was still plenty of scope for my imagination.

When we finally met, however, none of them was quite like I had imagined. One was very quiet and shy. Another was much more friendly and outgoing than I had expected. And the third seemed an interesting mixture of nervousness and self-confidence, but again nothing like I had imagined.

On the same weekend, I also met various other authors I had previously ‘known’ only via Facebook or blogs. What fun it was to be able to recognise them by their photos! Yet even then some tricked us. Some had changed their hairstyle, while others looked much younger than I had anticipated. And some were warm and outgoing, while others were a little more reticent.

With the authors whose writing had previously been sent to me, I did have some opportunity to get to know them as we worked together for one whole day. Yet despite that, I still knew so little about them and what they really felt about the various changes I had suggested for their work. As for my Facebook and blog ‘friends’, while we did work out who was who, we had little time to get to know them better. There is more substance to those photos I now see again on the net, but still so much to learn about each of them.

As I reflected on these experiences, I was reminded of a verse I had recently read in 1 Corinthians:

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. (13:12)

Right now, there is so much we fail to understand about this world and in particular about God. Yes, now we can know God through the Scriptures, through listening prayer, through our experiences, through other people, through observing nature – but all of this is still merely a mirror that is able to reflect only a part of the whole glory of who God is. One day, however, we will see the real thing. One day we will see God face to face – and be totally overwhelmed in the process.

Yet while we see only ‘through a glass darkly’, even now God knows us fully, Paul tells us. God does not have to wonder what we will look like or what our personalities will be like. God already knows us perfectly through and through, as Psalm 139:1 says. How wonderfully liberating and life-giving that is! I don’t have to pretend anything to God. I know I am loved and accepted and totally understood. God will not be surprised at anything about me or anything I do – it is all already known.

I loved meeting my author friends in the flesh for the very first time. But what a day it will be when I meet God face to face at last! Then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.

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