“I need to work on my testimony. Its pretty boring,” someone once told me. Really? Are testimonies something you work on? I can understand if this was used in the context of writing it down, but the sad thing was, it wasn’t. This person actually suffered from “a boring testimony.”
In our day, you hear radical salvation stories everywhere. You go to a church gathering and they seek to highlight an intense testimony where a person was saved from drug and porn addiction. You hear this and bubbling in your mind are thoughts of, “Man, I wish my testimony was like that.”
But no! No you don’t! When my friend told me that, I responded, “You’re lucky you don’t have a testimony like that.”
There are some people who had to crawl out of the deepest and darkest filth to get to where they are at now. When they arrive at the top, cleansed and renewed, they have a great appreciation of their salvation because they know where they have come from. For them, to see light shine in the darkness, to be bathed in goodness and mercy of our Father, is like seeing the face of God.
Now, I don’t use that phrase lightly. If someone came up to me and told me I had the face of God, I would tell them that they’re wrong, because if I did have the face of God, they would probably spontaneously combust or something crazy like that. The face of God is a serious compliment. Its so serious that in the Old Testament, God says, “You cannot see my face, for man shall not see me and live” (Ex. 33:20). Jesus was the only person who ever saw God in His fullness (John 1:18). In fact, the disciples in the New Testament describe seeing the face of God as seeing Jesus, since He is the exact manifestation of His glory (John 1:14, Heb. 1:3).
So when someone says they have seen the face of God, it is not to be taken lightly. There are two instances in which people use that phrase in a serious context today. One is when they experience salvation (like we mentioned before), and the other is when they have experienced blessing. Notice my separation of the words here: though salvation is a blessing, I add a distinct meaning to these words, which establishes them as two different things.
In Genesis 32, Jacob literally wrestles with God. After their encounter, Jacob names the place where they wrestled, Peniel, which means the face of God. This is because is verse 30, Jacob says, “For I have seen God face to face, and yet my life has been delivered.” Pay attention to the wording here. Jacob is saying that he wrestled with God, and he has been saved! In our darkest and lowest points of our lives, we have wrestled with our Father in Heaven, and when we emerge with a renewed understanding of Him who saves us, it is like seeing the face of God. Jacob is using that phrase because he has had an intense experience of salvation, and uses the phrase as the only adequate way to describe it.
Purely by coincidence (not), Jacob uses the same phrase in the next chapter when he finally meets up with Esau. When they meet, Esau will not accept the gifts that Jacob has brought to him to receive favor in his eyes. This is because Esau has already blessed him through accepting Him without the gifts he brings. So in Gen. 33:10, Jacob says, “For I have seen your face, which is like seeing the face of God, and you have accepted me.” In using the phrase here, we understand that Jacob has not literally seen God’s face. Instead, through the working of their relationship and the fruit of that bond, Jacob describes is like seeing the face of God. This is an intense blessing for Jacob, because he has been accepted.
I wrote this post because of the things I have seen maturing in ministry throughout college. I have seen massive crowds of people gathered for His name. I have seen people worshipping His glory. I have seen people lifting up a city in prayer. I have seen enormous acts of love that have rocked the very foundation of our society. To experience these blessings, these glorious sights, for me, was to see the face of God. There was no other way for me to describe it in my mind. So I went to the Scriptures to see if this was a Biblically supported statement to make. And it was.
I have been lucky enough to see the face of God in my salvation and through the blessing that follows after.
So here is my encouragement and whole point in writing this post: Strive to see the face of God not only as salvation in the darkest moments of your life, but also in the moments of blessings that follow. Dare to see the image of God fully realized in your life. Strive for more.
In doing so you’ll realize that your testimony, though however “boring” it might seem, is not the only way in which you have seen the face of God. Strive to experience intense moments of blessing that can only be characterized as seeing the face of God.