Written by Vicky Ng, Art by Phoebe Shen
For now we see only a 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. – 1 Corinthians 13:12
Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when Christ appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is. All who have this hope in him purify themselves, just as he is pure.– 1 John 3:2-3
We are created to be known. Our physical eyes are situated on the front of our face, so close together that it limits our peripheral vision. There is no way we could turn our eyes around and view ourselves. We thus have to depend on mirrors, reflections and photographs that relate back to us how we look like. Among all the mirrors in the world, information reflected in peopleâ€™s eyes influence us most. If we see delight and friendliness in their eyes, we feel loved and accepted. If we see annoyance and contempt, we feel disliked. The language communicated through peopleâ€™s eyes does not tell us how we are; it only reflects anotherâ€™s feelings toward us. We should instead find an accurate source, a mirror that not only reflects to us who we really are, but also shows us how much we are dearly loved instead of all the areas where we fall short. Godâ€™s Face is that mirror!
There are two faces: one masked by many layers, and one with no details and shapeâ€”or should we say â€œno faceâ€? The first one belongs to us; the other one belongs to God. Every time we come before God, these two faces are meant to interact, to exchange and to bring changes. You and I are supposed to come with no masks. That takes time. That also takes trust. If you are willing to face Him with patience and trust, you will see less of yourself and more details in His Face.
The masks are for defensive purpose. When we face strangers, we put on a mask of friendliness as well as watchfulness, carefully testing their personalities and intentions. When we face our own, we may think we have removed all of our masks, but there is still a layer of watchfulness and dishonesty to protect our bare soul. Some of us may have never taken off all the masks in our lives. Even when we face ourselves, we still wear them carefully, refusing to allow our tired soul to breathe and to rest.
What surprises me most is that no matter how many masks I have put on, the underlying face is transformed gradually, taken after the shape of the person, the activities, the thoughts with which I spend most time. Like a shoe taking after the shape of the foot, a mattress taking after the shape of the body, our face or our spirit taking after the shape of the things and persons with which we spend the most time. You may have spent up to one hour of devotion each morning. You may never be absent from any Sunday worship services. You may in addition attend up to three different fellowship groups. But if you have spent the rest of your timeâ€”especially your brain time with dirty or negative thoughts, or derogatory activitiesâ€”your spirit is gradually molded after these thoughts and activities, not after the good and positivity of the spiritual activities.
How much of a face do you see when you look at Godâ€™s Face? That truly depends on how much candor you are willing to face Him with. If you come with total openness, humbleness, attentiveness and expectation, you will forget about yourself, and in this case, forget to put on any masks, and you will see Him as He is, just as He sees you as you are. Come as you are and His Face could leave an imprint on yours! And if you are willing to do that every time you come before Him, whether it be the morning devotion time, the Sunday service, prayer meeting, or fellowship, you will see more and more details in His Face. Thereâ€”that is the loving Eyes which captivate your soul and make you want to come back again and again to revisit those Eyes. Thereâ€”that is the softness of His Face that brings you healing and willingness to forgive. Thereâ€”that is the strong Arms that carry you so close to Him that you find security and strength to continue this tough journey on earth. When you have spent undivided attention with Him, you start to carry the image of His Face for the rest of the day, superimposing it on every face, you find grace in every person you meet and mercy in every situation, and you respond to every person and every situation more and more with His Face. Most of all, your face starts to take after the form of its ownerâ€”your face looks more like Himâ€”and that is what Spiritual Formation is about.
Written by Vicky Ng, Art by Phoebe Shen