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Behold the Face of God
April 3, 2003
Dear Friend of Mary Craig Ministries,
Have you ever wondered how Jesus could call Judas "friend" when he knew Judas to be the "son of perdition" come to betray him with a kiss? Have you ever sought to get into the mind of Christ at that moment? Recently, the Lord has led me into a truth, a perspective if you will, that helps me face my enemies in a new light.
My journey began by reflecting on shattered dreams, those times when your faith runs out the bottom of your feet and your world crashes in shambles before you. We all have them, if weíre honest. The worst of our shattered dreams happens when God seems inconsistent, unpredictable, silent, random, unmoving, disappointing, not there. As believers we handle the pain as best we can, putting on a face of faith in the midst of our trials, hoping against hope, afraid of our feelings rushing in to place doubt in our relationship with Him.
The fact is: the Christian life is not lots of presents under the Christmas tree every year; not health every day in every way; not the stock market rising without falling; not a life free of conflicts, trials, and things not working as we thought they would. We arenít always "victorious" in the Christian life routine. If tested, we find that we want to keep what we have; we donít really want to "surrender all." We say that life within the veil with the Father is the greatest blessing, but we donít really want to follow Jesus outside the camp.
Only broken people worship. And the Father seeks those who worship Him in spirit and in truth. At some point in our Christian life, God will move us beyond faith into trust, beyond His promises to His Person. When dreams shatter, when the betrayer stands before us after the agony of the Garden, when there is no other way for redemption but through the cross to the grave, we learn to trust the Father, who He is more than what He can do.
Jacob had his trials. His father Isaac loved Esau, his twin brother, even though Esau despised his birthright and became a grief by marrying a Hittite. Knowing the prophecy that the elder would serve the younger, Jacobís mother Rebekah plotted to deceive Isaac when Isaac set up a plan to bless Esau and give Esau the birthright. Jacob, whose name means "contender, supplanter, or heel-catcher," lived up to his name, contending and deceiving to get that birthright.
Esau held a grudge against Jacob. With his dream of the blessing shattered, and with envy in his heart, he wanted to kill Jacob. Thatís how he consoled himself. So Jacobís mother told Jacob to flee to her brother Laban in Haran and stay there until Esauís fury subsided. She wanted Jacob to marry a woman other than a Hittite. Esau had shattered a dream in her life such that she said to Isaac, "Iím disgusted with living because of these Hittite women. If Jacob takes a wife from among the women of this land, from Hittite women like these, my life will not be worth living." (Genesis 27.46)
Despair seems to be part of the journey, despair and shattered dreams. Esau had more fuel for bitterness when he learned that Isaac blessed Jacob while sending him to Laban.
On the way to Haran, Jacob encounters God at Bethel. God gives him words of promise to give him the land and descendants and that all peoples on earth will be blessed through him and his offspring. God promises to be with him and watch over him wherever he goes and bring him back, that He will not leave him until He has done all He promised. Wow! Okay, then Jacob says God will be his God and vows to give God a tenth.
Life goes on, but not as planned. Laban tricks Jacob by substituting Leah for Rachel. Twenty years pass. God blesses Jacob. He gains wealth and wives and children. Laban tried to cheat Jacob, but God did not allow him to do harm. Jacob deceives Laban by not telling him he plans to run away. Jacob flees, but Laban catches up with him and confronts him. Jacob admits his fear. They talk and covenant to set a watch between them while absent one from the other.
Then Jacob sets out to return home and confront Esau. He sends a messenger ahead to tell of his coming, but when he hears that Esau is coming with 400 men, he fears, and prays for God to save him. He reminds God of His promises and expresses his unworthiness of all the kindness and faithfulness God had shown him. Jacob devises a plan to pacify Esau with gifts, sending the gifts ahead of himself in hopes that Esau would receive him.
And then, when Jacob was left alone, a man wrestled with him until daybreak. The man dislocated Jacobís thigh, yet Jacob continued to strive and prevail. In pursuit of the blessing, Jacob said, "I will not let you go unless you bless me." And there Jacobís name was changed to Israel, for he had striven with God and with men and had prevailed. When Jacob asked the manís name, the man responded, "Why is it that you ask my name?" (Genesis 32.24-29)
The outcome of this wrestling match became a turning point in Jacobís journey with the Almighty. The name change indicated a change in character. No longer would Jacob contend with men, thinking God needs a helping hand to establish His purposes and fulfill His promises. Jacobís contention had been with God, and now he knows, God rules, God strives.
Jacob named the place Peniel, face of God, for he had seen God face to face and yet his life had been preserved. When the sun came up, he was limping. He changed the plan, moving to the front. As he met Esau, he bowed down seven times in his approach. Esau wondered at all the gifts and told Jacob he had plenty, to keep what he had for himself. Esau embraced Jacob and kissed him, in apparent forgiveness and friendship.
And Jacob said, Nay, I pray you, if now I have found grace in your sight, then receive my present at my hand: For therefore I have seen your face, as though I had
seen the face of God, and you were pleased with me. Take, I pray you, my blessing that is brought to
you; because God has dealt graciously with me, and because I have enough. And he urged him, and he took it. (Genesis 33.10, 11)
Jacob saw the face of God in the face of Esau. He no longer feared his brother Esau. He saw the face of God in the face of his enemy, one who had threatened his death. He recognized the graciousness of God in his life. He experienced El Shaddai extending compassion. He saw God in this and every circumstance and Godís sovereignty. He was able to start resting in God in all things. He was able to bless, not to gain favor but because he had been favored. He had made a turning point in his life. He had God, and that was enough. Mighty is the God of Israel.
Jesus lived with the fullness of the Holy Spirit. He didnít have shattered dreams like his disciples. Jesus had the vision clearly before Him, but in the Garden He went through His own kind of agony. In the end, the Fatherís will prevailed. He wrestled within Himself and God prevailed. And when Judas approached Him, He called him "friend." When Peter moved to strike and fight the enemy and cut off the ear of the high priestís servant, Jesus said to Peter, "Put up your sword into the sheath. The cup which My Father has given Me, shall I not drink it?" (John 18.11)
What is it to behold the face of God in the face of our enemies? What is it to see God in every circumstance of our lives, shattered dreams and all? It is to enter a living hope. We struggle with God, yet God rules. His kingdom comes, and the gates of hell will not prevail against it. In our brokenness, we worship, and we overcome.
As Jesus went to the cross, the disciplesí dreams shattered and they scattered. They ran in fear for their lives. They hid out. How would the kingdom come now? But early Sunday morning, just as Jesus said, He rose from the dead. It took awhile for the disciples to get the message, but they did.
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which according to His abundant mercy has begotten us again unto a lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fades not away, reserved in Heaven for you, who are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. Wherein you greatly rejoice, though now for a season, if need be, you are in heaviness through manifold temptations: that the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perishes, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honor and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ. (1 Peter 1.3-7)
Trust in the Lord with all your heart and do not rely on your own understanding. In every circumstance of your life, acknowledge that God is in control. He is directing your paths. There is a rhythm to hope, and times of despair make up the lows before the highs, the valleys before the mountains. Behold the face of God in your shattered dreams and brokenness, even in the face of your enemies. Behold the glory of the Lord that you might be transformed into His image, from glory to glory, just as from the Lord, the Spirit. (2 Corinthians 3.18) And worship Him.
Please join me today in giving generously, graciously, gladly, and with His guidance. Thank you! Your gifts enable us to bring the message of the gospel with its healing and hope to countless numbers over all the earth. Change occurs as the Holy Spirit sheds forth the love of God into hearts, one by one.
To the honor of Christís glory,
Whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God, God
Abides in him, and he in GodÖGod is loveÖ
There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear,
Because fear involves punishment, and the one who fears
Is not perfected in love. We love because He first
Loved us. If someone says, I love God, and
Hates his brother, he is a liar; for the one who does not love
His brother whom he has seen, cannot love God
Whom he has not seen. And this commandment we have
From Him, that the one who loves God should love
His brother also. (1 John 4.15-21)
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