The Watchful Light of God’s Countenance (Lent 5, 2017)

About the watchful light of God’s countenance, His face shining upon us, the psalmist turns from lament and plea to trust as he writes Psalm 4:1 Answer me when I call to you, O my righteous God. Give me relief from my distress; be merciful to me and hear my prayer. 2 How long, O men, will you turn my glory into shame? How long will you love delusions and seek false gods? Selah 3 Know that the LORD has set apart the godly for himself; the LORD will hear when I call to him. 4 In your anger do not sin; when you are on your beds, search your hearts and be silent. Selah 5 Offer right sacrifices and trust in the LORD. 6 Many are asking, “Who can show us any good?” Let the light of your face shine upon us, O LORD. 7 You have filled my heart with greater joy than when their grain and new wine abound. 8 I will lie down and sleep in peace, for you alone, O LORD, make me dwell in safety.

Ever had a nightmare?  As an adult, they can be just as scary as when you were a child. 

It’s why I can’t watch horror movies or even realistic blood and guts movies or TV shows anymore.  How often does the violence depicted as realistic fiction—even in video games—get reenacted for real on the streets?  So I have a rule: No news after 8:30 pm because both reality and fiction follow me into my dreams.

In fact, the more horrific the carnage, the more frightening real life becomes to where it seems like a living nightmare.  A quick look at the headlines of Syria or areas of Chicago can make people afraid to leave their homes and afraid to stay.  They feel trapped like there’s nowhere to go, nowhere to hide.  Fear that is amplified under cover of darkness.

I don’t know about you, but nightmares mean one thing: I want light.  I turn on the light if I’m alone or I get out of bed and go into another room to have the light on so I don’t wake my husband up.  Light somehow makes everything seem better.  Less frightening. There’s just something comforting in being able to see and be seen.

Now, God’s face isn’t like the sun as a great big ball of combustion and sun spots.  But His face and the watchful light of His countenance are profoundly reassuring.  Knowing that He’s watching.  Knowing that He sees.  Knowing that He cares, and then we can sleep peacefully.  He makes us dwell in safety because in His light… and in His hands…well, that’s the safest place around.

Fun fact of light from the Physics Classroom:  Without light, there is no sight.  Imagine being in a dark room…  “If you were to turn off the room lights for a moment and then cover all the windows with black construction paper to prevent any entry of light into the room, then you would notice that nothing in the room would be visible. There would be objects present that were capable of being seen. There would be eyes present that would be capable of detecting light from those objects. There would be a brain present that would be capable of deciphering the information sent to it. But there would be no light! The room and everything in it would look black. The appearance of black is merely a sign of the absence of light. When a room full of objects (or a table, a shirt or a sky) looks black, then the objects are not generating nor reflecting light to your eyes. And without light, there would be no sight.”

For further thought: 

  • When God’s watchful light shines on us spiritually, we can see His goodness and His perfect love drives away all fear.  (1 John 4:18)
  • If light doesn’t make objects disappear and it’s just a function of light allowing us to see, what might be some reasons light is so comforting?
  • What might be some ways to bring ourselves into God’s watchful light?
  • In the Sunday School song “This Little Light of Mine” what blows out the light?  How does that match up with what extinguishes our light in real life?

Categories Articles and Devotionals, Devotionals | Tags: | Posted on March 5, 2017

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