As you recall, we are talking about living “from” the expression on Jesus’s face. (See Part 1) How you see Him looking at you is paramount to your intimacy. Allow me to tell you two stories to put things in perspective.
I was a bewildered new mom fumbling along the parenting path when an older dad gave me this great piece of advice. “When your toddler falls down they will look at you. Make sure you smile. If you panic, they will panic. If you smile, or clap your hands, and tell them they are okay, they will react the same. They may cry for a minute, but if you don’t make a big deal out of it, neither will they.”
(Thank you, Michael Patrick!)
So sure enough, Salem would fall down and look for me or daddy. She would search our faces and we would smile really big, and say in a happy voice “Hey baby, you are okay. Get back up!” And she would whimper a moment and get back up.
This also worked with getting the girls out of their cribs. In the morning or at after nap times, they searched my face to get a temperature of their world. So I consciously tried to smile and welcome them, regardless of my own inner reality. Spills and messes? Same technique. We wanted them to know mistakes were okay. They didn’t have to be skiddish or fearful but to simply get up and begin to clean up. It really created peace in the middle of momentary chaos. In all these situations, we set the tone for our children. Do you get it? Our expression of love and devotion directed their actions and reactions.
I would love to say I carried that idea into my whole of parenting. I did not —particularly as they got older and were “in trouble.” When they blew it big, so did I.
Often, I lost the whole notion of how my expression impacted these little learning human beings. And of course, they learned to watch my face when they got in trouble at school or church, or with their friends. Only it wasn’t a good thing. It was a fearful thing. They anxiously approached me because, “Mom, I was afraid you’d get mad at me…” In their greatest moment of need, in their sin, they were afraid of me.
Does this sound familiar to you? To the way you approach God?
God did bring a parenting breakthrough but that’s for later. Here is another story of watching someone’s expression. It’s a familiar story but let’s zoom in on a few details.
Jesus predicted that Peter would deny even knowing him three times before the rooster crowed. While Jesus was being tormented and tried, Peter stood outside in the courtyard around a fire. Three times Peter cursed at people who claimed he had been with Jesus and Luke 22 says, “Just as he was speaking, the rooster crowed. The Lord turned and looked straight at Peter.”
In this story we often focus on Peter, his failure, how he “wept bitterly.” We can relate to Peter.
But God. I want to focus on the expression on Jesus’s face…
Was he surprised? Disappointed? Shocked? Clearly not, since Jesus told Peter in advance what Peter would do.
Was he angry? Ready to punish? Clearly not, or he would have betrayed Peter and had him on trial as well.
Was he — merciful? Full of the same love that He was getting ready to pour out on the cross?
Let your mind imagine His holy expression. Jesus was devoted to his mission, Even in this moment, pre-crucifixion. His mission: To close the gap between God and man. To remove once and for all the shame that stained the soul of the whole of creation. To display the overwhelming love of God.
Can we handle the Look of Love in middle of our failure?
God understands, more than we do, that we most need mercy when we fail the most. Some powerful moments of healing happened with God in the middle of my sin. One time the Lord told me, “Jana don’t try to hide your sin from Me anymore. I would rather be with you while you sin, than you running away and pretending like I am not there. Stay with Me.”
In the garden, the man and woman sinned and they hid. For fear of punishment. And they were indeed banished. But all that has changed. “Till on that cross as Jesus died, The wrath of God was satisfied ”
Now in Christ, through the redeemed garden of Gethsemane, we don’t hide when we sin but we run to the Father. We look for the expression on His face. We know that just as Jesus looked on Peter with love and mercy, we find the same loving Eyes looking on us. We are not banished, but our fear is. His perfect love banishes, drives out, the fear in us.
So for today, consider where you go when you blow it? Do you hide? Run? Do you turn away from God and go outside and weep bitterly? Ashamed of yourself so God must be too?
Perhaps, one of the greatest things that ever happened to Peter was his ultimate failure. I think it was an incredible gift to us all. Why? Because after his failure, Peter realized what Jesus knew all along.
Jesus’s love was not based on Peter’s actions, but flowed from His Father’s endless, merciful, gracious Heart. Hallelujah.
“Those who look to him are radiant; their faces are never covered with shame.” Psalm 34:5
More to come…
Art by Salem Spicka