I was in marching band in high school. Besides playing pep music and providing entertainment during halftime of the Friday night football games, the Lexington High School Band was also assigned the anchor position in the small-town Christmas parade every December. I always looked forward to the final event of the marching season that led us down Main Street through the center of my small town (also, challenging me to play and keep in step with my fellow bandmates!) It was fun to be the center of attention of so many people as we blared out a familiar Christmas carol followed by our school’s fight song. The faces of the people watching us blur in my memory… that is, all except one… my Dad. Every year, I could trust that once the parade got underway, he’d walk up a half block from the Drug Store where he worked as a pharmacist to stand on the corner waiting for me to pass by. As the band crossed Fifth & Main, I’d always look to the same spot where he never failed to be. Even now, decades later, I can remember the joy and encouragement it gave me to lock eyes with his smiling face, as we marched by.
In the blessing from Number 6 (above), the writer prays that “face of the Lord” would shine upon God’s followers. While there’s lots more that is associated with this phrase, I liken it most to the feeling that I got from my Dad during my marching band days. That is, God’s shining face in our direction brings a sense of His approval, His nearness, and the reality of His presence. But also like my Dad standing on the corner, God’s affirmation isn’t for everyone… only His children. While there are many people who talk about sensing the presence of God, scripture actually says “The face of the Lord is against those who do evil.” (Ps. 34:16) But don’t be tricked into believing that you can just do ‘right’ things and be worthy of being in the company of the Lord. You can’t.
All people are born spiritually dead and unable to relate to God. No amount of good behavior can change that. Either you are either in sin, or in Christ. And regardless of the sincerity of alternate beliefs, the reality is that there is no third option. You’ll never be wealthy, eloquent or influential enough to construct your own relationship to God by yourself.
But the good news is that the Almighty has given you an option that invites His face to shine upon you… and He did it by sending Jesus. Christ came to pay the penalty for sin and offers you the glorious hope of restoration, wholeness and eternal life. Once you accept His offer of salvation, you’re invited into God’s family and can march under His divine face of approval forever.
All that the Father gives Me will come to Me,
and the one who comes to Me I will certainly not cast out.