How and why do we seek God’s face?

My dad often traveled for his work. My sisters and I were always excited to go to the airport and pick him up. Those were the days, before 9/11, when we could enter an airport and walk to the gate to wait. 

My sisters and I would look out the airport windows and try to guess which plane landing was Dad’s. Eventually, one of us was right. 

That plane pulled near, the stairs were rolled out, and the door would open. We’d watch every person get off the plane, trying to be the first one who spotted Dad’s face. 

He’d often glance up at the windows looking for us and smile when he saw us jumping up and down and waving. 

That’s a pretty good picture of what it means to “seek God’s face.” 

Seeking God’s face is synonymous with seeking God’s presence. 

How badly do you want to see God’s face?

We often equate seeing God’s face to those moments we enter heaven. That is when we will see God face to face. 

But Scripture teaches that we are supposed to seek God’s face, his presence, every day, all day. Psalm 105:4 says, “Seek the Lord and his strength; seek his presence continually!” 

My favorite beatitude is Matthew 5:8. Jesus taught, “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.” 

C.S. Lewis wrote, “It is safe to tell the pure in heart that they shall see God, for only the pure in heart want to.” 

One time I got a “U” in conduct on my report card. My teacher had warned me to “stop talking,” but I didn’t take her warning seriously enough. (My friends and family are probably grinning right now. I still might get a “U” on occasion.) 

The point is this: I wouldn’t have been quite as excited to see Dad if I knew I had to show him that report card when we got home from the airport. 

Sometimes we don’t seek God’s face because we don’t know we are supposed to. Most of the time, we choose to avoid God’s presence because we know what we are going to hear when we do. 

How badly do you want to see God’s face today? 

Is there something in your life causing you to avoid his presence? 

If so, take some time and consider 1 John 1:9: “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” 

My dad saw the “U” in conduct, and I’m sure I had some extra chores to do as a result. I also had to promise him I would try harder to do better. And, if I remember correctly, that was the only time I got a “U” on a report card. 

God’s discipline and direction are for the purpose of making us better people. 

When we seek God’s face, we are likelier to want to please him. We are blessed when we can approach God with a pure heart. Why? 

Because that is when we “see God.” 

That is when we come into his presence. 

Seek God’s face in the crowd

It’s probably a good idea that we can’t go to the gates at the airport any longer. I remember the crowds of people, all trying to meet up with someone. I’ve always been a people-watcher, and my favorite greetings always involve a few tears or a few kisses. 

My dad used to give all of us a hug, but it was my mom who got the kiss. Even today, I enjoy standing at the baggage claim, watching a wife meet her husband. I especially enjoy watching the soldiers greet their families. In those moments, the rest of the world fades away because the person who matters most is the one they have been waiting to see. The loved one feels loved. 

That is the way the Lord would like us to treat him each day. That is one way we can choose to love him. The apostle Paul wrote, “If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth” (Colossians 3:1–2). 

We need to seek the face of God, knowing we are seeking the face of Jesus. We need to seek his face like there is nothing else that matters more. God’s face, his holy presence, needs to stand out from every other in our crowded lives. 

The church, God’s people, are referred to in Scripture as the “bride of Christ.” Look for his face like my mom looked for my dad at the crowded airport. Understand that Jesus is looking for you like my dad looked for my mom. 

If my people . . .

This is a chaotic season in our history, for all kinds of reasons. 

We can find ourselves looking at others in order to place blame or find solutions. We might watch the evening news thinking that is the information we most need. But Christians have a higher calling and higher standards. 

The reason I wrote this post today is that I thought about a familiar verse from 2 Chronicles in a new way. I read the words like a teaching lesson for how to seek God’s face. God told Solomon, “If my people who are called by my name humble themselves, and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land” (2 Chronicles 7:14). 

God spoke those words to King Solomon at the dedication of the temple. The most important place in the world was the Temple Mount in Jerusalem. The temple was built around the Holy of Holies that contained the Ark of the Covenant, the Presence of God. People came to that temple for centuries in order to find forgiveness and seek God’s face. 

If our culture improves, it won’t be because a person is elected. The eradication of a virus isn’t going to cure the problems in our cities. What our culture needs most is the holy presence and priority of God. 

They need to seek his face. 

We are called to be God’s presence

You and I live in the promises of the New Covenant. We no longer visit a temple because Christians are a temple. The Holy Spirit, the same Spirit that indwelled the Holy of Holies, is present in every person who has made Christ their Lord and Savior. 

When you walk into a room today, you will bring the face of God into that place. Not everyone will be looking for you. They may have come to the crowd to find someone else. 

Here’s my point: My sisters and I always drew smiles at the airport. Picture three little girls, often with bows and ringlets, jumping up and down because their dad was smiling at them and giving th›em hugs. People couldn’t help but notice. 

And God said, “If my people”—if my kids—would “humble themselves, and pray and seek my face,” they would need to turn from evil in order to face what is holy. 

Today, let’s seek God’s face in this crowded, noisy world. 

People are in the crowd for all kinds of reasons. But it is difficult to ignore a child who is excited to see their dad. And our heavenly Dad is excited to see us. We are greatly loved, and we are called to help others know his love in their lives. 

Who will see God’s face today because they have seen yours? 

This blog post was originally published on October 14, 2020.