The other day in a time of prayer the Spirit of the Lord led me into a precious awareness of God. Generally these days I find prayer very difficult, so I greatly appreciate times such as this. As I was making my petitions to God, reminding Him of prayers that have yet to be answered, I suddenly became aware of God—that is, of a certain quality of God. I became aware of a God who is sincere. Is faithful. Is true. He is honest. There is no falseness in God. None whatever.
You ask, didn’t I know this already? Well… not like this. Of course I could affirm that God is like this; I am familiar with many Bible verses about it. But this experience was beyond that. This was an awareness, a consciousness of God Himself. I became aware of a God who is true. He is honest. It’s no use trying to embellish the word. He is honest beyond words to describe. So honest that it seems a sacrilege to even say He is honest. As if there could be even a nano-possibility of His being otherwise. The conscience recoils at having the suggestion brought up.
However, the writer of Hebrews does bring it up, saying that by two immutable things—God’s promise and His oath—it is “impossible for God to lie” (Heb. 6.18). The apostle Paul also brings this up, writing to Titus that the promise of eternal life is given by a God “who cannot lie” (Titus 1.2).
Why would the Holy Spirit who inspired the Scriptures find it necessary to say such a thing? It’s because God knows our nature, that we have a deep-down problem in this area. By nature we don’t trust God. So, He who cannot lie comes out and assures us He will not lie. He even condescends to confirm His promise with an oath. “I not only promise I will do this; I swear by Myself that I’ll do it!” He does so because He knows we have trouble believing the God who cannot lie. It is perhaps the deepest and most revealing root of the nature of the human heart—that we humans doubt, mistrust… God. Oh, what kind of creatures did we become when Adam disobeyed in the Garden?
It’s been a few days since this revelation in my time of prayer, and I am left considering what change has taken place in my heart as a result of it. For, once again, just as that revelation of the God of peace a few weeks ago didn’t last very long, neither did this one. What was the value of it then? And why is God dealing with me this way? Little glimpses of His glory. But as with that revelation in the park I am aware that this too did something in me. Well, three things, actually.
One, these experiences are creating in me a great cry to see Him. Oh, to see Him! And His beauty beyond compare! We may know many things about God, but there is a seeing of God that is beholding the glory of the Lord—a glory that has a certain Divine Ingredient in it that changes us into the same image… as we present ourselves before Him with open (unveiled) face.
Secondly, and perhaps this is the same thing… it has created in me a cry for the kind of character that correlates to the revelation of God. Do you know what I’m trying to say? It would be wonderful to have so powerful a revelation of God that we are totally and completely transformed all in an instant. I long for that… and I anticipate we will yet come to experiences like that. But meanwhile when we are granted only glimpses of His glory, let us cherish even this. Let us submit to this. For, is not this how character is formed? Character—it’s the fruit of the Spirit, actually. And fruit doesn’t appear instantly on a tree. It grows.
And so in giving us glimpses of His glory, it is character God has in mind. His intent is to try us, to prove us by the glimpses. How will we respond? Will we dismiss it as being too small for us? Or will we sow to this revelation? Nourish it, cherish it, water it, lift up our faces to the Sunshine continually… and grow? Will we obey the heavenly vision, like Paul did? On the Damascus road he in fact received a very powerful heavenly vision of the Christ. But even with so powerful a revelation he realized he had to respond in obedience to that vision (Acts 26.19). How much more you and I, then, in the little glimpses we are granted. Let us not be disobedient to the heavenly vision; let us respond.
Thirdly, I am to take this revelation very personally. It wasn’t just a generic revelation. (I wonder if any revelation ever is.) God revealed Himself to me like this so that I can lay it to heart in my own life and circumstances. He is honest, purely honest, He will not fail me, He will be faithful to me in things He has promised and which at times I have agonized over, as Habakkuk did.
O LORD, how long shall I cry, and Thou wilt not hear? Even cry out unto Thee of violence and Thou wilt not save! (Hab. 1.2).
What, Habakkuk accusing God of not hearing? It was God Himself who had put this burden upon Habakkuk. And so He provisioned him to carry it. He granted Habakkuk a living word, a revelation. “The just shall live by faith.” It was a revelation that sustained Habakkuk, that provisioned him to carry his burden aright.
And so step by step at every step I must sow to this revelation of God till trusting Him, believing Him, becomes something so interwoven into the fabric of my own nature that it becomes my very character. It is character God has in mind—and He has it in mind for me. Since He revealed Himself to me like this, His intent is to cause me to become completely trusting, believing. That is the character that corresponds to this revelation of God. If I know Him to be faithful, true, honest, it causes me cease from all my doubts and anxious care. It causes me to cease from my own efforts to answer my prayers myself… the way Jacob did. It becomes my character that I rest in the Lord and wait patiently for Him. I cease from my own works and enter His Rest. “For they which have believed do enter into rest…” It becomes my very character that I believe Him, trust Him implicitly. He is honest, He will do what He has said He will do.
How deeply we need these encounters in which the Spirit of God discloses God Himself to you and me in the things we are going through. And we actually become conscious of God. Seeing Him… it just undoes you. And you discover that the truths we love, really, they have no existence apart from Himself. They are only alive and vital in His Presence. And so it creates such a longing. Oh, how we need to and long to abide in You, Lord.
At the same time, oh, how deeply we also need to sow to these revelations in the tests of life. God’s objective is not just revelation. God’s objective is to create in us a character that corresponds to His own.
…I mentioned Jacob and his elaborate scheme to answer his own prayer (Gen. 32.10-21). But then He saw the face of God. Somehow he found himself in a wrestling match in a night season, and by the time the sun arose upon him he had been deeply changed. He had seen God face to face; it meant the end of all his striving, all his conniving, all his scheming, all his Jacobing. That had been his name, his nature, his character, the way he had lived and walked for years. Now he saw God, and was crippled. And changed. It meant a ceasing from all his own works and schemings—symptoms of a deep mistrust, something hard wired in him—and entering into Rest. It meant receiving a new name now, a new character—Israel, prince of God. He had won a wrestling match in the night—won by being smitten and defeated, that is. He walked differently now, leaning on God… trusting… depending… believing that the God who had promised him an inheritance would fulfill the promise he himself had been labouring so long and so hard to try to fulfill.
…Lord, touch us this same way. Cause us to see Your Face… and so doing, bring us into the knowledge of God that passes knowledge, the knowing of God that carries us beyond the place where we are familiar with spiritual things yet somehow still unable to walk any differently, the old nature still very strong in us. Cause us to see with the seeing that changes us, Lord Jesus Christ, the seeing of God that produces in us the character that corresponds to that revelation…
…Your very own beautiful character, Son of God. You simply believed God Your Father. You believed, without doubting. You put Your trust in Him. You rested in God without toiling anxiously or fabricating the salvation He purposed to reveal. You were secure in Your Father’s love in which there could be no fear. This… it was Your character.
Because You knew Your Father to be genuine. True. Faithful. Honest.
We may not be there yet. But Lord, we continue to look to you, and ask that you continue to reveal Yourself to us, and in us, till the character you are looking for is fully formed in us.
…Here’s a poem by an unknown author that echoes my heart in this. I confess that I changed two words. In the first verse I changed transient to glorious, and in the last verse I changed Till to Since. A glimpse of the glory of God is surely not transient. And it’s not necessary to wait till we die to lay our burden down and enter into rest. It’s necessary only to believe. It’s those who enter into the believing character of Christ who enter into rest.
Show me Thy face—one glorious gleam
Of loveliness divine,
And I shall never think or dream
Of other love save Thine.
All lesser light will darken quite,
All lower glories wane,
The beautiful of earth will scarce
Seem beautiful again.
Show me Thy face—my faith and love
Shall henceforth fixèd be,
And nothing here have power to move
My soul’s serenity.
My life shall seem a trance, a dream,
And all I feel and see,
The one reality!
Show me Thy face, I shall forget
The weary days of yore,
The fretting ghosts of vain regret
Shall haunt my soul no more.
All doubts and fears for future years
In quiet trust subside,
And naught but blest content and calm
Within my breast abide.
Show me Thy face—the heaviest cross
Will then seem light to bear;
There will be gain in every loss,
And peace with every care.
With such light feet the years will fleet,
Life seem as brief as blest,
Since I have laid my burden down,
And entered into rest.