When I was a little girl, my maternal grandfather used to sit me on his lap in front of a mirror attached to a small desk in his living room. As we stared at each other’s reflection, he would ask me questions that encouraged me to open up about myself.
“What age would you like to be?” he’d ask, while smiling at my image in the mirror.
“Sixteen,” I answered, staring back at his aged reflection.
“Why sixteen?” he’d inquire with genuine interest.
“Because I can wear makeup and drive a car,” I answered, trying my best to envision myself as a grownup.
My grandfather continued to ask me questions about my favorite colors and animals, and all the while I soaked up every detail of his face. I have many memories of my grandfather’s rapid decline after his stroke, but my strongest image of him is when we chatted face to face in front of that living room mirror. I may not know much about him personally, but those short moments together have permanently imprinted themselves in my mind and heart.
I wonder, though, sometimes: what if we had a lifetime filled with intimate moments talking comfortably face to face? My grandfather was patient, and he knew I was young; so he’d ask me very simple questions about my likes and dislikes. But what if we had continued talking as I grew in maturity, understanding, and stature? What if our conversations had become less one-sided? What if I had started asking questions about him? Would we have been able to really get to know each other inside and out?
Although I never got the chance to continue my face to face chats with my grandfather, I am grateful and honored that I get these moments with my Creator. When I first started talking with God, our conversations paralleled my early chats with my grandfather. I constantly talked about my likes and dislikes. I envisioned all the wonderful things God had planned for my life. God was patient with me, and He encouraged me to get to know who I was; so I would eventually know who I was in Christ.
Over time, through prayer and reading God’s Word, I began to see God’s character take shape. I see what pleases Him, I see His hand at work and I see all the love He has for me. I don’t have a physical image of Him, but slowly His nature is being imprinted in my mind and heart. I see His face in a song, over a difficultly, across the horizon, or on a friend’s life. God moves through everything, and His thumbprint cannot be overlooked. I will spend eternity filling my eyes with His beauty.
My intimacy with God is growing. I may have a long way yet to go, but I know Him better than I did yesterday, last year, and ten years ago. I’ve learned not to pressure growth nor to neglect it; rather, I seek my God like I seek a familiar face. I talk with Him, I read His Word and I listen for His whisper. I still get it wrong, and my own desires clog up my ears and fog up my eyes; but God is always patient with me. He continues to initiate intimacy, and I make time to sit with Him—face to face.
“Jacob named the place Peniel (which means “face of God”), for he said, ‘I have seen God face to face, yet my life has been spared’” (Genesis 32.30 NLT).
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