Realizing the presence, promise, and power of the Kingdom of God.

The Strange Case of the Traveling Face

The Strange Case of the Traveling Face

It’s weird, having all these people with me.

  Of course, headshots are not exactly companions.  More like a weight of responsibility.

For I am tasked, in my high-profile scribing this week, to turn each of these into a hand-drawn portrait.

Representing a person’s face is a tricky business.  Even a little variance is a potential insult.  So, I am taking no chances.  Here’s how the process works.

Turning the printed photo over, I cover it with pencil.  Then I tape it up to the surface on which I’ll be scribing, tracing over the face in pen.  That transfers the exact outline.  Ever so carefully, I marker in the pencil lines.  Finally, I add color.

Faces are powerfully personal.   St. Jerome wrote, “The face is the mirror of the mind, and eyes without speaking confess the secrets of the heart.”  The best I can do is to capture a likeness.  I’m not after deep secrets.  I just want the person to be recognizable.  It’s worth the effort of hauling all these people with me.

Moses reminds me, as I continue my devotional reading through Exodus, that only one traveling face truly matters.  In this passage, I’ve replaced the word presence with the literal word, face:

      And he said to him, “If your face will not go with me, do not bring us up from here. For how shall it be known that I have found favor in your sight, I and your people? Is it not in your going with us, so that we are distinct, I and your people, from every other people on the face of the earth?” (Exodus 33:15–16)

Isn’t it a powerful idea: God’s face accompanies us?  The mirror of his mind, the whispered secrets of his heart.  It’s an intimate metaphor.  God, coming so close to us throughout our journey, we are made distinct by the impact.

Something of his face is recognizable in us.

As the towels in my bedroom remind me, there are some faces that are instantly recognizable.  I hope that God’s character can be seen in me – his kindness, his love for the outsider, his commitment to all things good and right.

Walking back through the labyrinth of hallways at this resort, I chance to look up and find my face reflected in high glass.  I am reminded that the higher the view we get of our existence, the smaller we can feel.  It’s easy to feel insignificant.

Until I remember that the great Creator of the universe desires to be so close to me that his character is transferred onto my very soul.

Time alone in his presence: the right way to face each day.

We are amazed, Lord, that you desire to be with us.  And impress your character onto us.  Make us distinct by our time spent in your presence, so that our lives will constantly speak of you.

Reader – Tell me of a time you felt you met God face-to-face.


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Bruce Van Patter

As a freelance illustrator, graphic recorder, and author, Bruce is on a lifelong journey to delight in the handiwork of the Creator. And he’s always ready for fellow travelers.

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