Beholding His Face

Our church has a wonderful ministry to moms and their young children called Mom2Mom. I am one of the “mentor moms” since I and my children are older. At each monthly gathering, a mentor mom will share a short devotional. I did this last year, and you can read it here, and this week I was honored to share again. This is what I shared.

My Weakness

It is rather ironic to me that I should, first, be involved in this moms ministry and, second, be asked to share. This is because growing up, I was the younger of two girls, and my mom and my sister did everything for me. They did all the cooking and cleaning, and I did as little housework as possible. I was not that domestically minded, and I rarely babysat. So when my own children came along, I loved them wildly, but I didn’t know the first thing about how to take care of them! I was learning through each stage of their development, and as soon as I would figure out that stage and feel on top of things, they had moved right on to the next stage! And just when I thought I had things mastered with my first child and would be an expert with my second (yes, I really expected this!), she came along three months early and threw a wrench into that plan!

Also, my children aren’t yet grown. When I think about giving wise advice to young moms, I’m not even proven! So while it would be great to bring in adult children and point to them, and therefore to me, as models of all that wise parenting can bring, the reality is my kids aren’t that old. Though they have faith that is growing, we’re all still learning and growing, and our story is ongoing—though in reality, I know that’s the case for everyone.

So rather than point to my kids or point to me—which even if I could, I wouldn’t want to—I wanted to point all of us to look up and into the face of Jesus Christ.

Easter and God’s Grace

We just finished the Easter season where I was struck again at the thought of what Jesus has done for us. We who are sinners, separated from a holy God by our sin, are able to know God and have fellowship with Him through Jesus’ death and resurrection. He took the place we deserved, bore the penalty and weight of our sin on the cross, and rose again in victory. Now by faith in Jesus, we are restored to relationship with God. What grace! We didn’t do this; God did! That’s how much He loves us. And there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.

This gives me great hope, not just for an eternal future with God, but for even today—abundant life in the here and now. When I make a mistake as a parent, be it from ignorance, by accident, through my sin, or whatever it is, I have a God who loves me, who offers forgiveness, who helps me, and who can give me wisdom for parenting.

This doesn’t mean I hang my hands and do nothing as a mom, just trusting God to take care of everything. While I am indeed dependent on Him and trust it will be His Spirit’s work in my children’s life that transforms them, I nonetheless know that I need to teach my children, and I want to do all I can to show my children the grace and love of God that He has shown to me. Rather than simply trying to change their behavior, I want to see into their hearts and help shepherd them to Jesus. I so often fail, but I’m so thankful that God helps me in this wonderful adventure of being a mom.

Beauty Found in His Face

I have just come through a couple of surgeries for skin cancer on my face. During this time, as I wrestled with the idea of having a scar, I was reminded again of the massive love of Jesus for us, that He would suffer and die and bear scars in His body for us (John 20:24-29). Imagine that!

One of the big things I came to realize, though, was that beauty is not found in the absence of scars, but in the presence of Christ. Through my time reading God’s Word, the Bible, each day, He brought me to verse after verse to show me this truth.

Exodus 34 is about Moses who, after having spent time with God, came down from the mountain. His skin shone, and his face was so radiant that the people were afraid, and he had to wear a veil.

Psalm 34:5 says, “Those who look to him are radiant, and their faces shall never be ashamed.” The radiant face comes from looking at Him. 

2 Corinthians 4:6 tells us that the light of the knowledge of the glory of God is found in the face of Jesus Christ.

In Psalm 80, the psalmist asks that God would restore them, that He would make His face shine that they might be saved.

Psalm 67:1-2 similarly says, “May God be gracious to us and bless us and make his face to shine upon us, that your way may be known on earth, your saving power among all nations.”

Brokenness and Beauty/Suffering and Glory

During this time, I also began to see that God takes broken things and makes them beautiful so they we might shine for Him. This is also similar to the way He takes our light and momentary afflictions (brokenness) and through them produces an eternal weight of glory (beauty, shining) far beyond all comparison (2 Cor. 4:17, Rom. 8:18).

These experiences are working out something in us that will actually make us more beautiful and able to reflect and shine for Him if we go through them beholding His face and His beauty. Our beauty comes from Him. And we can actually ascribe beauty to His name through our praise (Ps. 29:1-2), which I pray will ever be on my lips and in my mouth (Ps. 34:1), even as a scar sits there to remind me of this necessity.

How Do We Behold His Face?

The question then becomes “How do we behold His face?” We can do this through the study of God’s Word and through prayer, in both ways taking pleasure in the presence of Christ.

Study the Bible

It’s important to study God’s Word, the Bible, not just good books, helpful though they might be at giving us practical parenting tips. Set aside time to read the Bible each day. It can be a psalm or using a Bible reading plan or doing a Bible study. It was through Women’s Bible Study at our church that I began to grow and learn and be transformed by God’s Spirit through spending time daily in His Word. This is a vital spiritual discipline. God’s Word will not return void.

Pray God’s Word

Similarly, we want to pray. Pray before we read the Bible asking God to open our eyes and heart to understand. We can also take what we read in Scripture and pray it back to God, pray it for our children. Here’s one way I’ve done that this year.

May His Face Shine Upon You

The content of this talk has been new to me recently, a new theme, and I haven’t had time to wrap it up into a neat outline. These are therefore somewhat disconnected thoughts that I would like to shape more, but I hope you will remember God’s grace and His face when you think of this talk! And I conclude with Numbers 6:24-26:

The LORD bless you and keep you;
the LORD make his face shine on you and be gracious to you;
the LORD turn his face toward you and give you peace.

God Is Not Mocked

Last week I was asked to give a short devotional at our church to a young moms group. This is what I shared in hopes to encourage moms in a way God had encouraged me.

When my children were young (about 5 and 7), I vividly remember one bad day in particular. I was homeschooling that year (1st grade and pre-K), and I can’t say I was particularly cut out for it! I’m not sure all of the things that brought me to discouragement that day, but while I stood at the gas pump filling my car with gas, I felt despair. I had just watched my friend drive by with her kids, and my kids were probably sitting in the car fussing—or perhaps somehow just resisting all the great plans I had. I began to think destructive kinds of thoughts: “What do you think you are doing? All you are trying to do—does it really matter?! Look at so-and-so. She’s such a great mom, and why can’t you just be like everyone else? Do you really think you’ve been called to do the things you’re doing?” And on and on the thoughts went through my mind—just an assault, a barrage of negative thinking—and I was in no way trying to combat it as I was very upset.

Right in the middle of these defeating thoughts, it was as though these words sliced right across my mind, interrupting my thoughts with this clear one: God is not mocked.

I was surprised by this. In the midst of my distress, not even looking for an answer, God had stopped me in my tracks and met me with this thought. I went right home and looked in my Bible concordance to see where this was. I found it in Galatians 6.

Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, this he will also reap. For the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life. Let us not lose heart in doing good, for in due time we will reap if we do not grow weary.

Galatians 6:7-9

Those words were the encouragement my heart needed: Do not be deceived, God is not mocked. Do not lose heart. Do not grow weary. Sow to the Spirit. Press on!

As I considered sharing this for the devotional, I went to the Good Friday service at our church. Reading through the passages in our worship folder, I couldn’t help but notice the mockery of Jesus in the Gospels. In Luke 27, we are told how the soldiers and Roman cohort stripped Jesus and put a scarlet robe on Him. They wove a crown of thorns and put it on his head. They kneeled down before Him and mocked Him, saying, “Hail, King of the Jews!” They spat on Him and beat Him on the head. After they mocked Him, they led him away to crucify Him (Matt. 27:27-31).

As He hung on the cross, those passing by were hurling abuse at Him, saying, “You who are going to destroy the temple and rebuild it in three days, save Yourself! If You are the Son of God, come down from the cross.” In this same way, the chief priests and scribes and elders were mocking Him, saying, “He saved others; He cannot save Himself. He is the King of Israel; let Him now come down from the cross, and we shall believe in Him. He trusts in God; let Him deliver Him now, if He takes pleasure in Him, for He said ‘I am the Son of God'” (Luke 27:39-43).

I did a quick word study on mocked. The Greek word for mocked in Galatians 6:7 (mukterizo) is only used this one time in the entire New Testament. It means to turn up the nose, sneer at, treat with contempt.

The Greek word for mocked in the mockery of Jesus in the Gospels is empaizo. Its meaning is very similar and closely associated to the one in Galatians. This one means to mock, delude, deceive.

As I thought about this ultimate example of mockery—Jesus being mocked—I wondered how He felt at these accusations coming against Him as He knew the path He was walking—a painful one for our good, for our very salvation. Three days later, He would rise from the dead, and in the end, God was not mocked! Jesus arose triumphant having done the will of His Father. His resurrection is the very centerpiece of our faith.

It gave me perspective for those mocking thoughts and lies that can still come to my mind. We must come back at these lies with truth, with the truth of God’s living Word. He will not be mocked. As we seek Him through reading the Bible and in prayer, as we obey His will and follow Him, we can trust that as we sow in the Spirit, in due time we will reap—even if the outcome looks uncertain or even bleak. Don’t lose heart. Press on. Don’t grow weary. Patiently wait. Keep trusting God. Sow to the Spirit. Don’t believe the lies. God is not mocked.