Face to Face

 “Christians are known by one common denominator: They have this passion to hang out with Jesus”

Bob Sorge

When I was around 27 years old, I was preparing to go on a missions trip to Slovakia, where the group I was part of would be teaching English as a second language at a summer youth camp. Even though I had grown up attending church, I didn’t come to know the Lord until a couple of years before, so at the time I was still fairly young in my walk with Him, and I was full of passion!

A few weeks prior to traveling, the group leader brought us all in for team training. There were several activities from that day but the one I remember most was sitting around in a circle, answering questions. The question they put to me was “What’s one thing you are asking of God for your life right now”? I knew immediately what it was. I had heard Him speak directly to me when I was 25 years old and, having recently read about Moses, I wanted more of it.

My response was simply “I want to speak to God face to face as a friend, the way Moses did”. Not realizing how rare this was, I was not expecting the laughter that ensued next. It really took me by surprise! One of the ladies in the group said “well you had better be prepared to suffer the way Moses did then, because that’s not an easy path”. Embarrassed by the reaction, I sadly thought twice about my lofty desire, especially since at the time I wasn’t exactly prepared to suffer!

There are two things I learned from that experience that day:

  1. The veil that separated God from man was torn asunder for a reason. Through Jesus’ sacrifice for us, He purposefully has made it so that we CAN speak with Him directly, and this is His desire too
  2. The kind of intimacy I deeply desired to have with God was not going to come cheap

But wait, Lisa, you just said we can all speak with God directly now, right? Right. But passion is not the same as maturity. Speaking with Him directly and having an intimate walk with Him were two different things, and my underlying desire was the latter one.

I was recently reading the story of Simon the Magician, found in Acts 8:9-24. Here’s a couple of things that stood out to me about Simon:

  • Vs 9 – he was a magician
  • Vs 9,11 – he astonished the people and claimed to be someone great
  • Vs 10 – people paid attention to him, saying “This man is what is called the Great power of God”
  • Vs 13 – Simon believed and was baptized
  • Vs 18 – he sees that the Spirit is bestowed like a gift, and is attracted by the power and authority that comes with it
  • Vs 19 – he believes he can buy the ability to bestow the power, and attempts to purchase what cannot be purchased

What do you think might have been Simon’s motivation for seeking the gift?

I believe he wanted to receive the power and authority that came with it, so that he could be esteemed by men and become the arbiter of the gift.

What can sometimes be our motivation when we seek God’s blessing, power, or authority?

  • The ability to heal, prophecy, or persuade men?
  • To say “God is on my side”?
  • To receive blessing that profits personally?
  • The rush that comes from accomplishment?  It’s a natural tendency to be energized when we see our efforts accomplishing tangible results for the Kingdom.  We warm whenever someone expresses appreciation for our labors.
  • The thought of enjoying international travel? Traveling with authority, being highly esteemed wherever we may go?

I know for me personally it’s the esteem. I like to be well thought of by others. That’s my weakness, and is part of what makes this passage from Philippins so intriguing:

13 Brethren, I do not regard myself as having laid hold of it yet; but one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead, 14 I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.

Philippians 3:13-14

Did you notice how Paul places emphasis on the UPWARD call? Knowing what an evangelist he was, you might think he would have said OUTWARD instead, but he knew that first and foremost we are being called to come UP, to ascend to a higher level of relationship with Jesus. If we get that part right, the OUT comes about naturally.

Why is this important? Perhaps the real question is “Why can’t I have all the blessings without all the suffering?”

We don’t have to look any further than to big stakes lottery winners to see a good example of what happens when people receive a windfall blessing in the natural realm.  Don McNay, a financial consultant to lottery winners and the author of Life Lessons from the Lottery noted “So many of them wind up unhappy or wind up broke. People have had terrible things happen. People commit suicide. People run though their money. Easy comes, easy goes. They go through divorce or people die.” Can you just imagine what “winning the lottery” would look like in the spiritual realm when we’re not yet ready to receive it?

With great light comes great responsibility. We need to be mature enough in our walk with Him in order to handle what comes with it. Jesus told us we would be hated by all men because of Him. We know that in this world we will have tribulation, and that we will endure suffering. Not because Jesus is some kind of masochist-maniac who is into suffering, but because He knows the closer to Him we get, the more we will be hated by those outside of Him.

The only thing strong enough to endure this level of hardship and pain is true love. To love Him for who He is, not what He gives. To want to fellowship with Him on all levels. To be called a friend of God.

“Fasten me upon your heart as a seal of fire forevermore. This living, consuming flame will seal you as my prisoner of love. My passion is stronger than the chains of death and the grave, all consuming as the very flashes of fire from the burning heart of God. Place this fierce, unrelenting fire over your entire being. Rivers of pain and persecution will never extinguish this flame. Endless floods will be unable to quench this raging fire that burns within you. Everything will be consumed. It will stop at nothing as you yield everything to this furious fire until it won’t even seem to you like a sacrifice anymore.”

Song of Solomon 8:6-7, The Passion Translation

4 thoughts on “Face to Face

  1. I love this book by Sorge, The Fire of God’s Love, that you reference. Thank you for your insight. Your blogs are taking us into the deep into how He loves us. We look at suffering differently now. As the word says, we really can “rejoice in suffering” to become more like Jesus. Thank you.

    Liked by 1 person

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