Seeking His Face

When I heard him say, “Seek my face,”
my heart skipped a beat like a goat leaping high
to land on a ledge then jump to the top
of a high crag, flat, and shaded by pines
to find him there, his face lit up
by the rising sun.

I wanted to ask him to share with me
some reasons behind all the suffering,
to draw me a map of the road laid out
for the coming days. But standing before him
I suddenly knew that one thing alone
was priority. 

So I bowed my heart 
and listened.

The fire of his Presence warmed my soul,
the light from his eyes swept clean
the dingy crannies, the hoarded toys,
and I flew like a moth right into that flame
and found it health and life and love,
all dross removed.

To find his face is to be with him,
to know his heart and to rest, assured
that he rules the world and is wholly good,
that his Family is his true delight,
that he knows all about me
yet hugs me close.

Your face, Lord,
I will seek.

Why would I “fly like a moth right into that flame”?  Wouldn’t that have scared me away? There had to have been something comforting in the way his face was lit by the rising sun, something that led me to trust that flame.

Yes, that was it. When I was fifteen and away at boarding school, at Ivory Coast Academy, I was yearning for something more in my spiritual life. I was committed to Jesus, enjoying the Bible studies and singing in the choir, having a short daily time in the Word and prayer. Why was this not enough?

In the school library I noticed a book that intrigued me, The Pursuit of God by A.W. Tozer. Why would anyone need to pursue God? Isn’t he always around? I checked it out, began reading, and took off in a new direction like a sheep scrambling up a mountain to meet with my Father/Master/Counselor in a deeper way.

I’ve been reviewing that book to find out what it was that touched me so deeply. There is a lot! And it echoes a verse that I memorized when I was about six, at the family breakfast table:

Draw near to God and he will draw near to you.  (Jas. 4:8 NET)

“Draw near” had always seemed like “coming close,” not a fervent “chasing after” which is implied by “pursue.”  The reason Tozer uses “pursue” is because his main point is to emphasize that this is not passive, just sitting beside someone, but is about looking for God with everything that is within you. It is true that ‘all the time we are pursuing Him we are already in His hand”[1] and the desire to pursue him actually is actually planted in us by Him. I had thought that having given myself to Him, that was basically enough. What God was inciting in me was a hunger to know him intimately, not to just know about him even though that in itself is treasure.

We cannot know a person deeply when we’ve only met them and read about them. It takes spending time with someone, doing more than just working together somewhere, singing, sitting on the same bus. A marriage cannot achieve deep intimacy without mutual sharing of thoughts and feelings—not just once, but increasingly as time moves on. If the husband is away at work for hours, even traveling, and when he comes home he eats, reads the paper, watches a movie, and goes to bed,. the wife is not a partner in his inner journey. I discovered that myself, especially when both Glenn and I were working so hard we ended the day worn out. We had to make space and time for real sharing or we were just drifting apart.

God is a person, with depth far beyond our complete understanding. But what he desires is a “continuous and unembarrassed interchange of love and thought”[2] with his daughter or son, a relationship that keeps on growing.

“To have found God and to still pursue him is the soul’s paradox of love . . . justified in happy experience by the children of the burning heart.”[3] That flame was lit in my heart, and I began to experience its warmth as I opened up to whatever He wanted. His fire lights up dark places too, and burns away trash and anything I am allowing to be more important than he is. That is because he is holy, and fire is the image he has used of himself when appearing to Moses, that symbolized him in the Holy Place in the tabernacle, that fell on disciples at Pentecost.[4] It is a purifying and attractive flame that invites our approach.

How can we practice this unembarrassed exchange? First of all, by wanting it. That makes us receptive spiritually to his approaches and willing to experience ongoing renewal through these interactions. This is what it means to develop “godliness,” a term that often has come to mean a kind of piety in modern thought. We found the concept a challenge to translate into Nyarafolo until we discovered that one of the recent French translations uses the phrase “attached to God.”  This if a firm attachment that leads to walking every moment of life with him, inwardly keeping our soul’s “gaze” fixed on him. Even when “compelled to withdraw their conscious attention in order to engage in earthly affairs, there is within them a secret communion always going on.”[5]

It does take practice, but as the Word says, we are to “make every effort” (2 Pet 1:5-6, 3:14 NET) to grow in all the ways he teaches. These bring us into increasing union with him as we “seek his face.” What does that mean? Well, when we are face to face with someone we are looking at them, eyes engaged, up close to them. It is being together and there is communication. Here is a comparison of some English translations and how they try to make this clear:

My heart says of you, “Seek his face!” Your face, LORD, I will seek. (Ps. 27:8 NIV) My heart has heard you say, “Come and talk with me.” And my heart responds, “LORD, I am coming.” (Ps. 27:8 NLT)

Seek the LORD and his astrength; seek his presence continually! (Ps. 105:4 ESV)  Search for the LORD and for his strength; continually seek him. (Ps. 105:4 NLT)

Look to the LORD and his strength; seek his face always. (1 Chr. 16:11 NIV)  Seek the LORD and the strength he gives! Seek his presencecontinually! (1 Chr. 16:11 NET)

“Face” is a Hebrew manner of referring to a person’s presence. David made it clear that his one and only desire was to be in Yahweh’s presence every moment. When he wants to stay in the “house of the LORD” he is referring to living in that presence.

One thing I ask from the LORD, this only do I seek: that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, to gaze on the beauty of the LORD and to seek him in his temple. (Ps. 27:4 NIV)

Timothy Keller cites the way a commentator underlines the intensity of David’s statement here: “ ‘One, one, one, only, only one thing I want’ . . . it’s a grammatical expression of an extraordinary singleness of purpose.” It occurs is in the middle of a lament about the dangers all around him. He is saying: “No. I’m not going into prayer in order to get things from God, though I might ask about things. I want to get God. Not things from God; I want to get God. That’s the one thing I have to have. I have to have that kind of prayer life. I have to have that kind of fellowship. If I have that, then it doesn’t matter what my enemies do.”[6]

If it was enough for David, who went through countless trials, stumbled and fell, but was chosen by the Lord because he was “a man after his own heart” (1 Sam 13.14), then it should certainly be enough for me and for you. What our Father wants is for us to truly know him, to respond to his warm invitation by running to him and building an increasingly closer relationship to him. Our trust will grow the more we get to know him, as we plunge the depths of his goodness and power. Then, in addition to using lots of spiritual energy, we also find our place of comfort and rest:

Then Jesus said, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. (Matt. 11:28 NLT)

Many godly people have gone before us and have passed on practices that they have found fit right into this pursuit of God. We will be exploring them. It’s like becoming physically fit—it takes more than just doing stretches, even though they help. Let’s run this race with all we’ve got!

[1] Tozer, A.W. The Pursuit of God. (Camp Hill, PA: 1982, 1993), 12.

[2] Ibid., 13.

[3] Ibid., 14.

[4] Ibid., 37.

[5] Ibid., 86

[6] Timothy J. Keller, “Repose: The Power and Glory,” in The Timothy Keller Sermon Archive, 2014–2015 (New York: Redeemer Presbyterian Church, 2014), Ps 27.

Published by Linnea Boese

After spending most of my life in Africa, as the child of missionaries then in missions with my husband, I am now retired and free to use my time to write! I am working on publishing poetry and on writing an autobiography. There have been many adventures, challenges and wonderful blessings along the way -- lots to share!

3 thoughts on “Seeking His Face

  1. This entire blog was so very helpful! The illustration of the goat climbing the mountain to seek the Father is especially meaningful to me. I have always been intrigued by goats, and it now I will picture myself climbing ever higher to draw closer to Him.


  2. This entire blog was so very helpful! The illustration of the goat climbing the mountain to seek the Father is especially meaningful to me. I have always been intrigued by goats, and it now I will picture myself climbing ever higher to draw closer to Him.


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