–My Face Changed – Part Two–
Over the last few weeks we have been discussing Nebuchadnezzar’s face changing towards Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego. The King went from looking upon them with favor to frowning very quickly. We talked about when we have fallen from someone’s favor how we could choose to deal with it.
We have also talked about what to do when our face changes towards someone. How do we reconcile feelings and trauma that has made our face towards someone change? How do we address situations where friendship used to abound, but now there is strife and contention?
This week, we will deal with a third issue: when our face changes toward God. I have said often that it takes one kind of faith to believe God can do anything, but a whole different kind of faith to deal with the fact that God absolutely could have fixed a situation, but chose not to (at least in the way we were expecting).
When my father was diagnosed with cancer in 1996, I knew that God could heal him. I had no problem believing that He is the Great Physician and in one moment, my dad’s cancer could be gone. But, when He chose not to, I had to come to terms with God about His choice. It took me a while…a long while… and in the process of grieving, my face changed toward God. I did not know the depths of my God and the lengths that He sometimes has to go for us to come to a place where we are willing to hear His voice, no matter what He might be saying. I had created a false image of God and it crumbled before my eyes. I never doubted His ability, but because I knew He could “fix things”, it actually made me all the more frustrated.
In Daniel three, Nebuchadnezzar knew that Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego had the ability to bow, they just chose not to and it infuriated him all the more. It is one thing to accept that someone does not have the ability to do more, but quite another when they are perfectly capable and simply make a different choice. I have a dear friend who is a school teacher and she has said that the most frustrating students are those who have the ability to do well in their work, but choose to fail.
That is how I felt about God. I knew He had the ability to heal my dad, but He chose not to. I thought He had failed me. He was not the God I thought He was, because He did not meet my expectations. My face changed.
God was not surprised by my anger. He knew that His choices would cause me to turn my face from Him in resentment, but He knew that the best thing for me was to learn who He is on a deeper level. He was tired of the superficial and wanted me to trust Him through some very tough things. He knew that we would come out on the other side stronger and he was willing to have my face change toward Him to get us to that point.
The same happened with King Nebuchadnezzar, Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego. After the fire, their relationship was stronger. King Nebuchadnezzar had a superficial friendship with them before. As long as they were serving him, all was well. As long as they were obeying his every whim, he liked them. When loyalty to his friendship with them came up against his pride though, his face changed.
Oftentimes, our expectations of God lead to our face changing. As long as He is serving us well and He is obeying our every whim than our superficial friendship with Him is good. But, as soon as God’s desires are different than our own, our face changes. We know He could give us what we want, but He won’t. We get so frustrated because we believe our way is best.
I thought that life with my dad was the best thing for me, but in reality my dad was my god. I wanted his life to be longer on earth instead of a deeper relationship with God. I am so glad God chose His way and not my own. At the time though, my face changed. My rage was boiling!
Nebuchadnezzar felt the same way. He believed that his way was best. He could see no better alternative than to worship himself…until he saw the one, true Son of the Living God in the fire with Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego. When he was willing to see God, nothing else mattered. All of the expectations folded because he could finally see God working in the situation.
We have got to ask the Holy Spirit to do this for us. We have got to ask Him to change our face back to God. We must choose to pour out our hearts before Him. Admit that our face has changed. Maybe a loved one was not healed, maybe ministry was not what we expected, maybe finances are not what we envisioned, maybe the people in authority over us are ungodly…whatever the situation, admit that we are upset. Tell Him that this is what you thought He would do, but He didn’t do it and you are disappointed. Psalm 62:8 says, “Trust in Him at all times, O people; Pour out your heart before Him; God is a refuge for us. Selah.” He wants us to pour our hearts out to Him.
How many times in human relationships do we know what is wrong, but until it is spoken aloud, true restoration cannot happen? We have to be open to hear God’s side of the situation just as we would be open to hear another individual’s. Our face cannot turn back toward God until we have addressed our disappointments with Him.
Psalm 51:10 says, “Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me.” Only the Holy Spirit can do this for us. Only He can turn us back to God. He has been leading us in that direction the whole time, but our chins have been set, our teeth have been clenched and we have been furious.
Psalm 46:10 says, “Cease striving and know that I am God;” We have got to quit fighting and start trying to see the “fourth Man in the fire.” Often, we cannot see the miracle because we are turned the other way. We ceased to seek our Lord, so we did not see His beautiful work. Part of seeking His face continually (Psalm 105:4) is being able to still see Him when the fire is blazing and things are not going as expected.
After we have come clean before Him, we also must simply trust that He is good. I John 1:5 tells us that God is light and in Him is no darkness at all. This is such a beautiful verse. It tells us clearly that God is good…always. He cannot help Himself. The Holy Spirit can give us that assurance. He is good.
We must also realize that as Isaiah 55:8-9 says, His ways are not our ways and His thoughts are not our thoughts. He is God and we are not. This might hurt our pride a little, but it’s the truth. He is God. He is good and He is our faithful Friend. His desires are on a higher plane than we realize, so we must simply trust Him.
Many times in my life my face has changed toward God. But, praise His Name, He has never stopped pursuing me. He has never stopped trying to get me to smile at His goodness. He has never stopped purifying me for the next season and turning my face back to Him.
That’s your God too. He is so desirous of a deeper walk with you, not for His sake, but for yours. He is willing to risk your face changing so that you can see Him more clearly after the fire. He loves you that much. He is willing to chance your face changing because He believes in you. He knows that you will allow His Holy Spirit to soften your face and that your relationship will be stronger in the end. He loves you that much. How much do you love Him?
O, Lord, may our faces change toward You once again. May we ever trust in You and believe that You are good. Help us to see Your goodness. Help us to see Your face. Help us to see Your faithful love.