You can say a lot with your face, even if your mouth remains (momentarily) shut.
Mama had a look that she shot at me when I was doing something I wasn’t supposed to. It was guaranteed to curdle milk at ten paces; absolutely no words were needed. The message was, “Quit that or you’re dead meat!” At least that was how I interpreted it.
Not all looks are scary. Once when I was leaving class in college, a beautiful freshman girl that I didn’t know, flashed me a friendly smile. She was running for cheerleader, I think, and unfortunately the message was simply, “Vote for me!”
When my son Steve was about seven months old, we were in the grocery store with my wife and mother-in-law. Phyllis was buying and her mom and I pushed the buggy with little Steve in it.
As I “goo-gooed” and “gaa-gaaded”, playing with him, suddenly his face changed and he looked at me in a way that said unmistakably, “I love you!” I had never seen a baby do that and would have thought that I imagined it if my mother-in-law hadn’t said, “Did you see that? It looked like he said that you were the grandest guy in the world.”
All that helps me to understand Bible verses like these:
“Such is the generation of those who seek him, who seek your face, O God of Jacob. Selah. My heart says of you, “Seek his face!” Your face, LORD, I will seek. Do not hide your face from me, do not turn your servant away in anger; you have been my helper. Do not reject me or forsake me, O God my Savior.” (Ps. 24: 6-9) NIV)
What’s all this about seeking God’s face?
When you’re close enough to see God’s face he can communicate with you. You may get a message to someone by yelling at her from 75 yards away but you’ll never see what her face is communicating in return. You’ve got to move in close to catch the nuances that speak from her visage.
God communicates best to those who are close to Him and for that kind of communication we must battle through all the distractions, busyness, unbelief and dead emotions that conspire to keep us far from His presence.
Often the beginning of our prayer time seems like what a jungle explorer must feel as he hacks through thick underbrush and vines, seeking a way through the tropical forest.
Ah, but when we get close ...
… We see such a look of love for us, that we hadn’t really discerned when we spoke with Him from a long way off. That was worth the trek!
… Now that we’re “up close and personal He can direct us. “ I will instruct thee and teach thee in the way which thou shalt go: I will guide thee with mine eye.” (Ps. 32:8, KJV). When you’re that close, He can look in the direction He wants you to go and you’ll understand. A look, a nod, a wink, a twinkle in the eye, a low whisper—we miss all these when we remain at a distance.
… Sometimes we’re afraid to get too close because we dread seeing reproach in His face. If you’ve sinned, come anyway. God’s will forgive, cleanse and deliver you in His presence if you really want Him to.
A father told the story of trying to spank his son. When the little one realized that Armageddon had arrived he did a surprising thing. Instead of running away from his dad, he ran to him and latched onto his leg for dear life. The father reported that it was harder to give a good spanking from that angle and he really didn’t have the heart for it anyway.
God’s presence is a healthy, healing place, even if he has to deal with us sternly at times. Come running—right up close!
Young lovers seem to say whole libraries of meaningful things as they look in their sweet thing’s eyes. Wriggle through the crowd into His presence. See His face. Hear Him speak with His eyes.
A lot gets said in a look.
“We’re trained to use our minds to get information and complete assignments; but the God revealed to us in Jesus and our Scriptures is infinitely personal and relational. Unless we take the time to be quiet, in a listening way, in the presence of God, we never get to know him.” Eugene Peterson