Sunday, March 30, 2008

God Hides His Face

I still smile when I see a mother trying to coax a toddler away from some fascinating object or play .. to no avail … until she walks away calling “Bye-bye! I’m going !” and suddenly the fascination evaporates and the toddler hurries after his mother.

I had a angora goat for a pet who was every bit as stubborn as goats are reputed to be. She had a propensity to eat exactly the things she wasn’t supposed to. If I scolded her or tried to distract her I would either be simply ignored or bucked out of her way. But if I hid myself suddenly I would hear her bleating cry and her feet hurrying to find me.

What is it about the fear of being abandoned that has such strong motivating power in God’s creatures?

The shearwater are a very fascinating bird.
The chick hatches from an egg laid deep in an underground tunnel. After two months of brooding by its parents it hatches with a ferrous appetite. It takes both parents regularly bringing food back to the tunnel where the chick simply sits and lives for the return of its parents and the food they bring!
Then when the chick is almost ready to leave its cozy home the parents abandon the chick. It waits but no parents or food appear. The chick loses weight – excess weight that it had gained to sustain it during this time of abandonment leaving it just the right weight to be able to fly!
Finally after a few days the chick is desperate enough to move to the entrance of its tunnel and then on a dark night it finally leaves its nest and somehow follows in the footsteps of its parents across the ground to the ‘taking off’ place.
Finally its struggle is rewarded reaches that place and stops.
The smell of the ocean is a strong lure…triggering the instinct to let go and spread its wings. The chick is chick no longer but soars above the ocean joining the adult flock of shearwater flying effortlessly above the waves.

I was thinking …….
I found ten places in scripture that talk about God hiding His face. Several of them are voiced by King David who cried out for God not to hide His face from him as in Psa 143:7 “Hear me speedily, O LORD: my spirit faileth: hide not thy face from me, lest I be like unto them that go down into the pit.”

There are also scriptures that speak of God ‘setting His face’ against someone that clearly indicate judgement as in Lev. 20:6,”I will even set my face against that soul, and will cut him off from among his people.”

Could it be that God turning His face away is not a judgement but rather a last yearning effort to turn man’s heart to Himself again? That in hiding His face He is purposely creating a fear, a sudden recognition that something is wrong - just as we saw in each of my real life examples?

Do we not all , as self-centered children want to do our own thing but at the same time want God to sit and watch .. blessing what we are doing?
God speaks to us but we are not listening ….. until as he says as in Micah 3:4 “Then shall they cry unto the LORD, but he will not hear them: he will even hide his face from them at that time, as they have behaved themselves ill in their doings. “

The people had disobeyed … had behaved badly … but did not feel remorse so He said He would turn His face away…. Making them cry out to Him!
A child is quite content as long as his mother is in view….but when he is aware that she is gone then he cries out !!
Why then does God say that He will not respond but will keep His face hidden from them?
A child’s first reaction to realizing his mother is gone is to simply cry out because he is suddenly afraid. In the same way the first reaction of man is to cry out simply because maybe things are going so good anymore!! “Thou hidest thy face, they are troubled” (Psalm 104:29)

God does not immediately answer man’s cry allowing him time to contemplate what he has done… to recognize his sin and cry out in repentance ready to listen to what God has to say, as David did in Psalm 88:14 “LORD, why castest thou off my soul? why hidest thou thy face from me?”

What makes God hide His face from us ? Is it what we would think of as gross sin ?
Maybe not ! Look again at my life examples. In every one of them the purpose of the ‘face being turned away’ was to stir up the child, the goat , the bird… to MOVE !! They needed to leave their ‘comfort zone’ .
Is that not often where we get stuck ? We like where we are and we don’t want to move? We love our comfort zone and prefer to stay there.
God’s still small voice is often not enough to move us - away from a habit, out of a situation, out of a relationship, into a ministry , from one level of maturity to the next.

The shearwater bird spoke another message to my heart. The parents overfed their chick so that when the day came that they abandoned it, the chick had ‘reserves’ that kept it strong to pass the test of finding its true purpose .. soaring high above the ocean waves.
How often have you hear someone say … “And just when I thought everything was going sooo good !! everything fell apart!” Did they stop to consider that perhaps the blessings had been sent by God to prepare them for what was to come? To 'fatten' them up so that they would have the strength and resources to pass the coming test?

And too I found it fascinating how the shearwater ‘followed in the steps of its parents” even though the chick was in the dark in totally unfamiliar territory.
How often do we feel we are in the dark and we are groping to find our way?
Do we not also have the example of spiritual fathers and mothers who have gone before and left their footprints for us to follow ?

I love how God put His words in us and around us in so many ways to ensure that we will not miss His voice in our lives !!
I love what David said… “I foresaw the Lord always before my face, for he is on my right hand, that I should not be moved” (Acts2:25)

Should that not be the heart’s desire of every child of God ? That we live in such a way that we are continually looking into the face of God….. so that our feet stay planted firmly on the Rock of Ages ?


Demara said...

you leave me a smile after reading this post. i could put myself in the wings of that chick and smell the ocean to soar upon! it was peaceful and content to read and again very well written!!! it IS interesting to KNOW that there is a time when God says to us, "i love you with a tough love! now move it or I WILL!" thanks for the peaceful, flying feelings and warm smiles Julie.

Lovella said...

Another wonderful lesson. I could so easily relate to this since I'm watching babes with their mom's.

There was a lot to think through on this one ..

LivedtoSpit said...

I died once, I accidently overdosed well perhaps i meant to either way when i was lying on the floor and the paramedics were there I clearly recall sitting up out of my body and before me was a man about my age at the time 25, I was laughing like i was happy to see him but he was hiding his face and shaking his head as if he were sad.. I later read in the bible in some passage that " God hides his face to forgive you of your past sins." Yet i have been reading on the internet that it means something totally different like God hates you or something.. I dunno why i am writing this.. I live my life today in the service of others and can truly say that before this happened to me i had no clue about such things as this.. However since i found Christ i can honestly say that i see Gods face in just about everything i look at.. god bless you and yours and thanks for the post!!

Anonymous said...

I love God's ways. It does not feel glorious when he hides his face, but we radiate his glory when we spread our wings.