How do you know God is present or even real when you can’t see Him?
How do you recognize anyone if you can’t see their face?
I belong to a Facebook group called Nystagmus United. The page serves as a connection place for those or parents of those who suffer from one of my eye disorders called nystagmus. This eye condition causes our eyes to shake back and forth, thus restricting our ability to focus on what we see. The Facebook page provides a safe place to ask questions about practical daily living adaptations or resources available to those with nystagmus. Most of all, it provides support to those who have this rare and misunderstood condition.
Someone on the group posed a challenge I had never considered before. Her son is entering kindergarten at a school where the children must wear uniforms. How will her child recognize other kids since he can’t see their faces?
I and others quickly chimed in with our coping mechanisms. Even in schools that require uniforms, students can find ways to insert their individuality. Look for those signs of uniqueness, we told the mom. The kid with purple shoelaces. The girl who always wears a low slung pony tail. The boy who pushes the line on the rule about shirts being tucked in. I joke with my women friends that they need to send me a memo before they make a drastic hair style change; otherwise I won’t recognize them.
The human norm states that you identify a person by their face. The Bible even uses that idiom to express our need to know God more intimately (2 Chronicles 7:14, Psalm 105:4). Yet those with partial sight prove that you can find other ways to recognize people besides getting a clear view of their face. It’s not 100% reliable, but it gets us by. A certain coat, the way someone moves, a singular inflection of voice are all clues to a person’s identity. Sometimes my friends are amazed at how I recognize them halfway across the room. I smile quietly to myself, resisting the urge to share my bag of tricks. We don’t have to see to know who someone is. I can tell my husband has come home before he enters the room where I am. It’s in the way he opens the door, walks across the floor, or clears his throat. It’s the same with him. He says he gets lonely when I’m not at home.
“But you go hours without seeing me or talking to me.” I say in frustration.
“The house feels different without you there,” he tells me. So true.
God denied Moses’ request to see Him in all His glory. Talk about looks that could kill; this would do it. Seeing God that up close and personal would be so overwhelming that it would have killed Moses. Instead, God gave Moses a glimpse of His back and He let Moses hear his voice proclaim His nature:
“The Lord, the Lord, the compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness, maintaining love to thousands, and forgiving wickedness, rebellion and sin. Yet he does not leave the guilty unpunished; he punishes the children and their children for the sin of the parents to the third and fourth generation.” – Exodus 34:6,7
The desire to see God resides within each of us. If we could but see Him, we would be convinced of His reality. “I want Jesus with flesh on,” cries the disconsolate. If we saw the Lord as clear and close up as we’d like, we’d be lying face down on the ground right next o Moses. Yet clues of God’s presence are all around us: the creation, the way God moves and works, and His voice as recorded in the Bible. He’s here, even though we can’t see Him. His presence is with us just as it was with Moses and the Israelites in the wilderness (Exodus 33:14). When we witness Him in action either by His intervention in an illness, certain injury or financial crisis, we’re seeing the fingerprints of His presence. When we get that nudge to call someone and it’s just the right moment, or when we see everything stacking up in just the right way for an unbeliever to face the reality of the risen Christ, we’re catching glimpses of His glory.
The really cool thing is that someday we will see Him face to face. 1 Corinthians 13:12 says,
“Now we see but a poor reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.”
I won’t have to guess any more. I won’t have to be satisfied with mere glimpses. I won’t have to fake it, not sure I’m going to make it. I’ll see my Lord just as clearly as He sees me.
I can hardly wait!
What’s your secret? How do you recognize those closest to you when you can’t see their face?
Where have you seen the fingerprints of God?