"Faith is the gaze of a soul upon a saving God."~ A. W. Tozer, The Pursuit of God
I began a letter to a friend with this gem, found tucked inside the book I am currently reading (One Thousand Gifts). I was to find over and again in my week's reading (and my music-listening), references to eyes and sight. I discovered the soul of faith in the Psalmist, who says, "To You I lift up my eyes, O You Who are enthroned in the heavens1". We who have faith will set our eyes on God as the servant looks to his master, or the handmaiden looks to the hand of her mistress2. If we dare to look into the face of our belovéd Father, faith is the gossamer tie that binds us to Him; fine, sturdy, and only visible in the light. We see Holiness burning in His countenance. We view His faithfulness in all of history past.
This gazing on God does not leave us unchanged, however. Indeed, it does something remarkable: it removes the masks we hide behind.
"...At all times I wonder: can anyone with the oily stains of a pride-splotched heart see God? I look down at the stained skirt of my apron, washed in moonlight. And I think I can stand here? I think I can brave this Beauty? Not an empty tinny beauty, but a Fierce Beauty, Flaming Fire Who burns through the thick masks and leaves the soul disrobed. I am naked and I am right ashamed. I know how monstrously inhumane I can be... [M]y neck has been stiff and graceless and I have lived the filth ugly, an idolator, a glutton, and a grace-thief who hasn't had time for the thanks."– Ann Voskamp, One Thousand Gifts (pp 115-116), emphasis mine
Those words burned into my mind's eyes and memory this week. It is in Thanksgiving to God that our masks are burned off by His fierce, flaming holiness. We turn our faces to Him and He excoriates whatever is not true, whatever is impure; that we, with unveiled –unmasked– faces might reflect His glory3.
Eyes open round. Here I am again, marinating my mind in II Corinthians chapters three through five because they are vibrant, robust, rich. Our own faces must be –and remain– unveiled to reveal God's glory3. Here I am reminded that we are frail earthen jars, full of cracks and full of the light of the glory of God manifested in the face of Jesus Christ4. We heave and groan in this earthy habiliment of flesh, awaiting the day, not when we are unclothed, but more fully clothed... The time when we will leave the body of the shadow-lands behind, to be robed in the most real body, the most real selves. It is whispered that we will become solid persons6.
Thanks be to God!
1. Psalm 123.1, ESV
2. Psalm 123.2, ESV
3. II Corinthians 3.18, NKJV
4. II Corinthians 4.6-7, NKJV
5. II Corinthians 5.1-8, NKJV
6. See The Great Divorce by C. S. Lewis for more on this idea