THE FACE THAT WILL NOT GO AWAY Read Psalm 44:1-4 again and Numbers 6:22-27

That wonderful verse in Psalm 44, that third verse about ‘the light of your face, for you loved them’–God’s face, loving and caring and affirming and encouraging…you can read all about it in the Bible and on His face.  I was thinking about a course I took at Princeton on childhood development.  As this was the seminary, the class approached child development from a theological perspective.  We were studying the development of trust in an infant.  Not necessarily trust in God but the development of the ability to trust and believe, to have confidence beginning with reliable and loving  parents.  We studied ‘Peek-a-Boo’!  That’s right, you read it!  Now, stay with me–I have a point to make, and it’s not the top of my head either!  When you play ‘Peek-a-Boo’ with a baby, you cover your face with your hands as if you disappeared, then you open your hands to reveal your smiling face saying reassuringly (and I don’t know why these words!) ‘Peek-a-Boo, I see you!’  And your baby laughs, and so do you, and all is well.  Play this game enough and the theory is that your child is learning to trust that the face that goes away will come back.  What’s hidden behind your hands that’s fearful opens to reveal a loving, smiling, laughing face that feels so very good to baby building confidence in your child allowing them to trust, to have confidence in life, knowing the face that will not go away for long.  When this natural process in life is disturbed, interfered with or traumatized, it’s that much harder to trust…parents, friends, yourself, those who really love you(or so they say) , even the Lord Himself. I know what I’m talking about, unfortunately.   Trust is very hard for me.  Distrust–like  second nature to me. When I accepted the Lord into my heart at the age of 16, that started the best journey of my life, for sure.  A child of God.  Forgiven.  New life and new birth.  Wow!  But along with it came years, I mean years of unsettling and terrorizing doubts that led me to wonder ad nauseum if I really was a Christian. ‘He loves me, He loves me not!’  Satan really had fun with me.  Almost all the joy of salvation was flushed out of my Christian life.  Almost all.  I now think, over 50 years later, that this enervating spiritual struggle within my heart began when I contracted polio in 1949, when I was 2, and was in isolation for a period of time.  I don’t know how long that was, but I still have some terrifying memories of that experience even though I was so young and impressionable.  I didn’t see my parent’s faces.  I may have caught the polio virus but I really caught the impression that those who loved me, that their faces had gone away.  My mother, my father, my brother and sister were all gone; and I was alone on my own in a horrible place of hot packs and exercises and strangers manipulating my legs, metal beds and darkness at night and crying, crying, crying.  Any wonder I found it hard to trust… even God? How about you?  Maybe I’m not the only one?  But here’s something else I’ve learned… that God knows all about it.  He doesn’t hold my tough-to-trust tendency against me… or against you.  He understands…after all, it says His face is a loving One.  And from the Old Testament book of Numbers chapter 6, the great benediction says that the Lord wants to bless us, His face shines on us, He’s gracious to us, He opens His hands to us, not saying ‘Peek-a-Boo’, but shalom, peace to you, even to me.  Yes, His is the ultimate loving face that will not go away.  Never, no never, no never go away from us who believe in Him, even with a faith the size of a tiny mustard seed.  ‘…the light of your face,  for you loved them.’  Thank the Lord that it’s His loving face and not my feeble faith that gives salvation to you and to me.   It’s Jesus’ gift and my hand that has reached out to receive it…thankfully, gladly, humbly…laughing even a little bit!  He understands you and me through and through.    His face…that will not go away!

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