Did you know that your interactions with others take place mostly through nonverbal communication? At an often subconscious level, our brains are taking cues from others. We notice body language, tone of voice, shifts in mood, and facial expressions. In fact, our brains process facial expressions and tone of voice before processing the words being spoken to us.
We are designed and wired this way from birth. Infants come into the world primed and ready for attachment with a primary care giver. It is no accident that newborn babies can see 8-12 inches, the exact distance from a loving mother’s arms to her eyes. From this place of feeding and cuddling, the baby gazes at his mother’s face, discerning love and care. From the consistency of these face to face, loving interactions, the infant begins to conclude, “I am precious. I am valuable. My voice matters. My needs will be taken care of.”
Our Creator designed us to take cues from others and to communicate at a deep level through facial expression. How confusing then, that we are unable to see His face. We are for all intents and purposes trying to spiritually attach to a Heavenly Father who is invisible. We cannot see Him.
As a teenager, I remember complaining to my Mom that faith in Jesus would be easier if He would just come and sit down with me. I wanted to see Him and touch Him. She remarked that I reminded her of her friend Robin, who would often say similar things, wishing to see God’s “skin-face.”
Truly, Jesus did have a skin-face. He was a man of flesh and blood who walked the earth. Some lived to see Him and tell the story (I John 1:1). However, for those of us who believe without seeing, faith is necessary to fill in the gaps.
The Lord does describe Himself as our attachment figure. Throughout Scripture, the Lord writes of Himself as a Father and sometimes even uses motherly imagery. He is not distant and far off, but He longs to draw near to His children. He longs to provide for them, to love them, and to care for them. He is the ultimate attachment figure, and He hasn’t forgotten about the importance of His face in expressing this love to us.
I absolutely adore the priestly blessing in Numbers 6. When I was growing up, my pastor would pray it over our congregation as a benediction. I have prayed it over my children and my foster children numerous times over the years. It is rich, deep, and beautiful. The Lord Himself gave this blessing to Aaron, priest of the Israelites, to pray over the people of Israel.
The LORD bless you, and keep you;
The LORD make His face shine on you, And be gracious to you;
The LORD lift up His countenance on you,
And give you peace.Numbers 6: 24-26
Did you see it? He talked about His face! With all the words of blessing the Lord could have spoken over His people, He purposely spoke about His face. He wanted to make His face shine on His people. He wanted to lift up His countenance on them. These are signature moves of love and care. He is bestowing favor and love to His children through His face.
I believe wholeheartedly that one day I will see my Savior and Creator face to face and it will be magnificent. I will see His facial expressions, I will hear His tone of voice, and I will get to touch Him. For now, I can hold on to Scripture, the Holy Spirit’s guidance, and the love found in the Body of Christ to help fill in the gaps.
We can also rely on our imaginations, which are God-given resources. Richard J. Foster, author of the Celebration of Discipline, writes about using imagination to help meditate upon the text of Scripture. Although I cannot see God’s face, I can imagine how He might speak to me. I can imagine His facial expression. Many times, I have pretended Jesus was sitting next to me in the car when I was deep in prayer. It helps me ground the conversation to the present in a real and meaningful way. In what ways do you incorporate imagination into your faith walk?
Pause: Take a deep belly breath and slowly exhale. When you’re ready, read back through the blessing in Numbers 6 written above. What resonates with you from this passage?
Renew: How does this topic challenge or change the way you’ve thought about your relationship with God? Have you ever thought of Him as an attachment figure in your life? Journal and pray through your thoughts about this topic.
Next: In the coming days and weeks, try using your imagination to meditate on passages of Scripture. How does the text come alive as you dwell on it?
May we feel the radiance of His countenance, friends!
Pause, Renew, Next!