“Then he called a little child over to sit among the disciples, and said, “I assure you that if you don’t turn your lives around and become like this little child, you will definitely not enter the kingdom of heaven. Those who humble themselves like this little child will be the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.” ~Matthew 18:2-4
I have a question for you. Where do you see the face of God? This question comes from a lot of my personal journey as of late. This journey is one that started very long ago. It is very strange for me to see the cycles that my life has always taken, but that is the way that life works. So where do you see the face of God?
I have heard many people say that they love nature because they enjoy the splendor and majesty of the creation. I have also heard that you can see it in the play of children, innocent and free. I have heard others say that they see it those moments after tragedy where humanity shines. So where do you see the face of God?
Seeking the face of God is a very personal thing for each of us, but I tell you the place I would have never thought to look to see the face of God and that is in the mirror. We each know the uncountable times that we have fallen short. So to seek the face of God within our own face is not the place that we would think. So can you see the face of God there?
The answer I found myself saying to this question at first was, “No way.” That answer is incorrect. How do we see the face of God in our own face? It’s the hardest place to see God. Recently I have been reading Celtic Christianity and found it resonating with me tremendously. The Celts believed that the divine lived within everything that was created. By creating something you place some of you in it.
You can see this belief in some interpretations of God creating us in his image. You can see this belief in how Christ calls us to take up our crosses and walk with him. You can see it in many other examples in the bible, but also in the writings of other followers. No matter the written examples, it has to be something that you yourself must reflect on and see for yourself.
If we are to believe the stories that we are told and the bit about all of us have some purpose, no matter how big or small. If we are to believe this then there is something within us that cannot ignore the fact that we carry with us a spark of that divine maker, our God. That fire that burns within us to help those in need. That fire that calls us to care for those in tragedy. That fire that pushes us to hold onto our faith when things are not going as We planned.
If we look at children, they are made of components of the parents to make an all new being. What if it was similar for God? Would that not mean that at least some part of God would remain in everything that is created? Is that why the splendor of nature takes our breath away? Is that why love is so mysterious? Is that why we return to reading the same stories over and over and gaining a new insight in them? I think so.
We are all made differently. The manifestation of who we are in Christ is also vastly different. For each household we are typically comprised of people that attach to faith and apply faith in many different ways. One may not apply faith at all, and another could grab it as the crutch and cure all. How can you not look into the face of a child and not see some portion of God there? No matter how ugly the baby is, there is a beauty in that face of innocence.
Why is this important? And why have I asked so many questions? Honestly it is because I’m in a seeking time of my life right now. I have achieved a few goals that I had and now I seek what is next once this has been achieved. I am one of those people that will keep climbing or looking for the next challenge once one is past. It is how I stay sharp and keep alive. It is also because where I am, I know that I am not where I need to be.
Life stretches out like a journey into a frontier that has never been explored fully. It’s not mapped out. Yeah we come across footpaths of other travelers that came before us. They leave their marks and occasionally drop journals or stories along the way. We may walk along the path for a while, but we will turn away from them. As we walk through this uncharted land that is life we come to peaks and get that view of the land that has been set before us. That gives us the strength to carry on.
From time to time we stop and stay a while in a land, but until we find that destination of where God wishes us to be and the role that he wants us to play in life, we will never be content. There are many contradictions in the bible, too numerous to count honestly. We try to group people together by the similarities, but that only gets us so far. Our children may travel with us along these roads, but eventually for them to know God the way we do, they must cut their own trail
That is the whole business about inherited faith. It gets you going in the right direction, but you need that personal relationship with God. It is a powerful thing and don’t let me make it seem like something it’s not. For me my current road has taken me to an old road that has grown up. I’ve been on it before, but took a wrong turn somewhere.
I have always been a very spiritual person. I have always been something of a mystic in some definitions of the word. I love stories and I love the oral tradition of passing on tales and legends. I have always felt that each of us has that direct connection to God. That was a lesson that I was being taught when I was very young, but did not realize it until recently. The feeling in the air when the wind was blowing in a storm always made me feel calm and introspective. The fog laying heavy in the morning always made me get a small smile and just be.
I’m an odd duck in a lot of ways, but discovering who I really am in Christ is one thing that I am yet to do. I feel that I am starting to get there. Feeling the presence of God in the wind and that deep, deep respect of nature. Raised by my father to only hunt what you plan on eating or that you can feed someone else. Raised to not do harm to trees unless you needed to. For a long time, I thought it was the very little Native American blood that runs in my veins, but with my study of Celtic Christianity I believe it’s not just that.
My relationship with God comes through in the wind; it comes through in the ground and it comes through in the life that he has created. It is in the healing and the hurt as well, but where I feel the arms of the Lord around me is in those quiet times. When I am silent and facing the storm that is rolling in, or the breeze coming in off the water. It is in those times that I am sitting silent in a mountain just looking and listening to the world around me.
Can I see the face of God within my own face yet? No, but I don’t doubt it’s there. In Listening to the Heartbeat of God by Newell he speaks about Pelagius and his belief that you can look into the face of a baby and see the face of God smiling back at you. It is there at birth and as we grown the layers of our sin obscure this from our view. That is a belief that I can say, as a father, I can see. Christ calls us to be as children, I believe that is for very good reason.
So let’s strip away a few of those layers and look into our faces and let us find the face of God that lives within us. Beyond that, let us take this to another level and start really looking at who we are in Christ because that identity is important. Without that how can we ever understand what God has in store for us?
“Real intimacy is a sacred experience. It never exposes its secret trust and belonging to the voyeuristic eye of a neon culture. Real intimacy is of the soul, and the soul is reserved.”
― John O’Donohue, Anam Cara: A Book of Celtic Wisdom