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The face of God

The face of God

Grace asks, “Didn’t you bring a book?”

 I reply, “I did.  But I’m trying to take all this in.”

 My wife, my newly graduated daughter and I have come to a state park for the afternoon.  Following our cookout, they have settled into reading, while I sit on the picnic table bench, facing the lake and contemplating how the lily pads in the dark reflection of the water look like a galaxy of stars.

 Earlier today, I read this exchange between David and God:

            You have said, “Seek my face.
                    ”My heart says to you,
                            “Your face, LORD, do I seek.” (Psalm 27:8, ESV)

 So, today, I’ve been thinking about whether I can seek his face in nature.

Paul teaches us in Romans 1 that everyone can tell two things about God in the created world.  Nature shows us that he is completely “other” – divine, beyond our limits, independent of us. And that he has power to match his greatness.

So, when I see the complicated system of behavior of even a single animal – in this case, a beaver (note the beaver lodge in the background) – I think about the mind that conceived such a unique and fascinating system and wove it into an entire ecosystem of other animal and plant behaviors, then placed that ecosystem into an entire planet of interlinked ecosystems.

It boggles my mind

But is that the “face of God” David seeks?  Surely, it’s a part of it.  But in the quoted verse above, God is calling David into a relationship with him. It’s a relationship that’s so close, in fact, it’s face to face.  It’s an intimacy unthinkable with the God revealed in nature – without the covenant he puts in place.

With that covenant fully realized in the cross, nature begins to tell a much fuller story of who God is. When I am struck by the clusters of green starbursts on the branch of a larch, I don’t simply marvel at the rhythm and order in the mind of God, I see a reminder of the order (and following peace) that he brings into my life.

When Grace and I stop, delighted, to take photos of the vibrant lady slippers blooming along the trail, I see them as a gift from a Heavenly Father who delights to bring beauty and surprise into the lives of his children.

I am reminded that the visual feast around me is lovingly prepared and served by the Lord.  All of it – each complicated system, interplay of light, touch of color – is meant to draw me closer to him. To remember how present he desires to be in every day.

As a friend put it recently, each moment of delight in the natural world is Jesus saying, “I love you.”  Nature can’t teach us the gospel.  We need his Word to fully reveal his character of love.  But in light of the gospel, nature can reveal his face.

If we know how to seek it.

Lord, our hearts tell us to seek your face.  Reveal yourself to us throughout the day and in the world around us.  Help us to recognize you in the world you’ve created.

Reader: what in nature speaks loudly of God’s love for you?  Can you tell me of something specific that you’ve experienced?

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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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