“When thou didst say, seek My face, my heart said to Thee, Thy face, O Lord, I shall seek. Do not hide Thy face from me.” (Psm 27:8 NASB translation)
Have you ever tried to find a familiar face in a crowd at an airport or train station? Your eyes run through the faces jostling to get out of the airport or off the train platform and you are trying to find the face of the person you are supposed to meet. A feeling of excitement is there but there is also a feeling of anxiousness when you cannot find the face you are looking for. Where is he? What if he isn’t in the crowd? What if he missed the plane or the train?
Questions race through your head and a slight tightening starts in the pit of your stomach. And then, there you see the face you are seeking, just a glimpse of him but yes, that is the face. Then the face is gone again for a moment or two. You keep your focus and concentration and then, suddenly the face is clearer than before, closer and you lock eyes with him. Joy now takes over and all feelings of anxiousness disappear like mist before the sunrise. You have found the face of the one you seek in the crowd.
God is saying to you, seek My face
Here in the beginning of 2018 God is saying to you “seek My face”. You may have some anxious feelings about the uncertain year ahead. You may be in a tight spot financially; or going in for a operation to remove that cancerous growth; or you may have lost your job at the end of 2017 – they told you not to come back; you may be getting more dependent on those painkillers you are taking and want to get loose but you feel trapped; you are lonely and depressed.
There are a myriad of reasons why you should seek God’s face at this time as only He can help you to overcome whatever may cause you lying awake in the early morning hours.
Then, as as you lie awake, if you still the anxious thoughts you will hear God say to you, seek My face.
For a moment you are stunned. “Seek your face, Lord?”
“Yes, seek My face.”
The Living Bible translation of this specific verse in Psalm 27 reads: “My heart has heard you say, “Come and talk with me, O my people. And my heart responds, Lord, I am coming.”
To me this is such a plain, open invitation from Almighty God to a sinful people, to troubled, anxious sinner like me. “Come and talk with me.”
To talk with God does not mean talk “to God”. It means that you talk, then you wait and listen to Him talking to you. Being open to receive guidance, encouragement and instructions from Him. Talking with God is a two way street. We are so used to talking “to God” giving him our “needs list” and never waiting expectantly to hear from Him.
But seeking God’s face means spending time in His presence. He wants to have a conversation with you.
Perhaps you have tried talking to a friend, family member or colleague but you have found them to be distracted, not really listening to you. You get the sense they don’t really want to hear about your problems.
But God says to you “seek My face. Come and talk with me.”
The crowd has many aloof , distracted faces
In the world we live in, there are always the crowd around us, many faces but they are aloof, distracted faces. We search for a familiar face, for someone who has time and willingness to connect with us, eye to eye. Colleagues at work greet us without even looking into our faces. At home everyone is so busy with their own things (mainly devices) that no one looks up when you speak to them. Very few people make that eye to eye connection.
That eye contact has become so difficult in the world we live in today. That look that says, “I see you, I acknowledge you.” Everyone has their eyes downcast on their device in their hand, or earphones plugged into their ears, looking somewhere else. No one looks at any person anymore. Very few faces make that connection with their eyes, and if they do, it is for a moment and it is cold and distracted.
But God wants to connect with you face to face. He wants you to seek His face and look for Him so that you can have a conversation with Him. He does not want you to talk to Him like you talk with your spouse, your children or your work colleague – talk while doing something else and having your attention somewhere else.
No, His invitation is “seek [inquire for and require My presence as your vital need].” Psm 27:8 (Amplified Bible). He wants your attention!
Are you desperate enough
The question is, are you desperate enough to seek His face? Are you prepared to ignore the jostling crowd with their aloof faces and concentrate on finding His face in their midst? Because that is what you need – to seek His face. You have to focus on finding God’s face so you can make a connection with Him and talk with Him about the things that are causing you anxiety, pain and desperation as you face an unknown 2018.
That is not a 5 minute prayer.
No that is a focused separation from “business as usual” and giving of precious time to seek His face. To withdraw to where you cannot be distracted by the pressure of the crowd until you connect with Him. That is what is needed. That is what God means when He says, “seek My face”.
Your reply: “Thy face, O Lord, I shall seek. Do not hide Thy face from me…”, may be anxious because when you are in a state of anxiety and apprehension, you may feel as if God’s face is hidden from you. You call out to Him “do not abandon me nor forsake me, O God of my salvation!”(vs 9)
God is not hiding
God is not hiding but He desires to spend time with us. He desires that we give Him the attention He deserves because He is who He is, Almighty God, who loves us and wants to help us. But we cannot see him in our busyness and appointment filled, task prioritized life. We need to come aside, focus on Him, read the Bible, pray and, probably fast.
No he is not hiding. You are just unable to find His face. You have allowed the crowd of faces, to blot out the face of the Lord who wants to help you.
Time and patience needed
We need to take time out. We need to step aside out of the crowd. To seek God’s face in the crowd of this world, means being single minded , determined and… patient.
Ah, what a word for the 21st century. Patience! Yes, we in general, as people of this age, do not have patience, do not know how to “wait patiently”. Unless it is to stand in a queue for the latest i-phone or the tickets to the band or movie we want to see. Then we have time and patience. But patient to seek God’s face? Putting time aside to seek His face? Not likely.
However, if you really want to get directions and answers from God you need to take time and have patience. You have to wait. The final verse of Psalm 27 reads in the Living Bible: “Don’t be impatient. Wait for the Lord, and He will come and save you!. Be brave, stout hearted and courageous. Yes, wait and He will help you.”
Begin 2018 with seeking God’s face
So I invite you to begin 2018 with seeking God’s face ‑
- seek God’s face away from the worldly and religious crowd that surrounds you. Set yourself apart, fast if you have to. Make the sacrifice of time to withdraw to blot out all the attention grabbers;
- Come apart from the crowd. Go somewhere alone away from everyone;
- talk to Him about your concerns once you have made a connection with Him, that special realisation that you have His attention;
- don’t be impatient. Getting God’s attention is worth the time;
- wait for the Lord. Have an attitude of expectation. He will come and save you!
- be brave. Banish all fear;
- be stout hearted (strong in your heart with a determination to trust God);
- be courageous. Stand your ground against the adversaries – you are not alone. God will save you. It is His promise if you seek His face.
Will you take the time out early in this year before the “business as usual” roller coaster starts, to seek God’s face? The choice is yours. But He is calling and inviting you “come and talk with me.”
I used to go to an Anglican Retreat House for a Saturday or for a weekend of silence when I worked in the corporate world, sometimes twice or three times a year. It was always rewarding and God was waiting for me. I miss that special sanctuary where I live now but one can make a “closet” where you can be alone. A special corner in your garden or a scenic spot near your home, away from the family.
My prayer for each one who read this and who is in need of direction, guidance and reassurance, is to heed God’s call to “seek His face” for surely then, you will have victory.
You will not be disappointed. You will receive strength, wisdom and knowledge for whatever you may face in 2018. Jesus promised, “For everyone who asks, receives. Anyone who seeks, finds. If only you will knock, the door will open.” (Matt. 7.8 Living Bible).