“Only when we perceive the face of the One in whose image we were made do we come to know who we are and the One for whom we were made. And because of who He is, to behold Him and remain unchanged is impossible.” – Bill Johnson
This past weekend, my family and I attended Greenwood Community Church’s Family Camp at Camp Timberline in Estes Park, Colorado. I’ll take several things away from the weekend, but one of the most fun takeaways will be remembering my daughters’ glowing faces. Savannah’s face was glowing because this was her first real experience in the great outdoors, she was amazed at how big the world was, and there were so many people that she had never seen before then. Charlotte’s face was glowing because she had more adventure in this weekend than any other weekend, including the camp’s zip-line, climbing wall, gut-check plank, silencer swing, and blob in the lake.
Liz and I had glowing faces due to the consistent reflection of God’s glory in this place. We saw it in the vast beauty of the mountains. We see it as God’s people sang praises to his name. We saw it in the passages of Scripture that were our guide for the weekend and we saw it in the way the Spirit led us as a body together.
It was beautiful to see God’s glory reflected on the faces of my family and the other attendees of the family camp this weekend. It made me think about the way that God can be mirrored in this life and the way that we can contribute to that reflection.
Jewish rabbis have a word for what we experience in glowing faces and that word was shekinah. Though the word is not found in the Bible, there is, in fact, a clear pattern of God’s glory being reflected on his creation.
Take for example, Moses’ face in Exodus 34:29. The verse says, “When Moses came down from Mount Sinai with the two tablets of the covenant law in his hands, he was not aware that his face was radiant because he had spoken with the Lord.” In other words, there was a visual effect that God’s presence had on Moses’ physicality. Have you ever been around someone so radiant that it was clear God’s presence resided with him or her and that God’s beauty and majesty was being reflected. It occurred to me that if we take seriously the invitation to come near to the Lord (James 4:8), it is possible that our actual physical appearance could be altered.
Now, clearly when the Bible talks about God’s children being transformed into his likeness, the emphasis is not on a physical appearance. When Paul writes in 2 Corinthians 3:18 that “we all, who with unveiled faces contemplate the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his image with ever-increasing glory, which comes form the Lord, who is the Spirit,” it is clear that he is talking about spiritual transformation. Truly, the more we see God’s glory, the more He transforms us into His likeness through the power of the Spirit. But, why would we be surprised if spiritual transformation and renewal had a physical effect? Doesn’t the Bible contain story after story of ways that the spiritual realm impacts the physical world?
In the days following the camp, we began to realize that our faces were not glowing quite as much as they had been. Further, when confronted with the daily routine, difficulties that arose, and the need to return work (and first days of schoolwork for Charlotte), our faces began to take on other, darker forms. But, we pause today to recall the glory we see on the mountain and recognize that the Spirit of God did not stay there. Instead, he brings his people through an ever-increasing glory (or, as some say, from glory to glory) so that we might better reflect his beauty and majesty. May you enjoy good health today, even as your soul is getting well (3 John 2)!