May I play a little game with you?
Let’s play “Guess Who.”
I will describe a scene from a particular person’s life and mirror a similar set from my own. At the end of my clues, you must guess my mystery person.
Ready? Here are your hints...
He had a babbling brook surrounded by cliffs. My stream first wrapped itself with snow and then later poison ivy. The ravens fed him. I was provided from the very arm of the Lord while cardinals hopped branches in my wooded canopy. He drank from the brook Cherith. I drank from the well of Christ’s living waters.
Okay. That’s all of the clues I have for you. Did you guess who it is? The whole “fed by ravens” part gave it away, didn’t it?
Yes, the prophet Elijah.
Although separated by 4,000 years, this mystery man and I were both led to hide for a little while in a season of separation and reliance on Father alone. I haven't been on social media nor Facebook very much, if at all. The meaning of the word “Cherith” is something special to me, but that is possibly another post for another time. But, suffice it to say, a time of hiding was sorely needed. For Elijah. For me.
You may have noticed that I have not written anything lately. I'm going to get a bit vulnerable with you. I'm back after taking nearly six months away from basically everything to untangle some knots inside and linger with Father besides his brook. I appreciate your patience.
I am honestly looking at all of the activities in my life and placing them into Father’s hands. I don’t honestly know where my writing will end up—even with this blog. I’m at a crossroads with it. I already have another waiting post or two, but I’m unsure how much more after that. I would appreciate prayer regarding this, please, as writing here and interacting with you all had been such a joy to me.
In this particular season of life, I asked Father critical questions like "How do I trust you?" "Do you really have a love for me as an individual?" "What do I do if I don't feel it?" "What does it mean that you'll never abandon or reject me when the world does the opposite?" "How do I get rid of the anxiety? How do I get the peace my carved gut so desperately needs?"
Then, as those answers did not come, I grew desperate. Why aren't I experiencing peace and joy, Lord? Will I ever feel okay again? How in the world do I learn to trust you?
I still didn't receive an answer, so I resigned myself to believing “it’s just going to be this way now,” so I had better suck it up and get on with life.
And here in this dark place, my surprising answer appeared in the most unlikely way. Instead of directly satisfying my wonderings, five black and white letters slowly lifted themselves from the pages of my Bible. They arranged themselves into a face in front of me—Jesus Christ—whom I would learn to worship and adore no matter what swirled around me. Slowly the questions dimmed in light of Christ’s majesty.
I have a cherished friend who told me two years ago, in May 2020,
"Don't seek outcomes. Seek Father's face. That's where the joy is."
I remember listening to her words, squishing my face in puzzlement, wondering exactly what she meant.
Aren't I already doing that?
I instinctively knew I wasn't because I wrote her words on a sticky note and stuck them on the wall above my Bible. Slowly other sticky notes covered it until it was forgotten entirely. It sat hidden from my view for two years—even when I wrestled with God in my new place of hiddenness.
Then one morning, while cleaning up my desk, I peeled off several old layers of sticky notes from my adjoining wall and found her note underneath. I stopped dead in my tracks, blinking rapidly at the timing. Already Father had begun his profound work in me. Something had changed inside, and I could now lay my finger on its pulse. It's too intimate of a story to share publicly, but I began to see that I was seeking outcomes instead of beholding Christ for himself for most of my Christian walk.
The sticky note find was a reverent moment and a beautiful confirmation of what Father had already shown me in my season of hiddenness. His love washed over me in encouragement. It was through this note that Father smiled at me and said, YOU ARE ALREADY DOING IT, MY PRECIOUS DAUGHTER. JUST KEEP YOUR EYES ON ME—ON WHO I AM—LIKE YOU ARE NOW. KEEP WORSHIPPING ME EVEN WHEN YOU DON’T UNDERSTAND.
I continued to fix my eyes on Him, the author and finisher of my faith. I lifted him high in adoration—especially in those "even if" moments of pain.
When I again started to feel the burning sensation of panic in my gut, I would take off for a walk with my praise music set in worship and adoration. Two hours later, I’d emerge from the woods, or a near-by neighborhood, now at peace inside. Even my husband learned to point me toward solitude with Christ when he saw the worries and stress again engulf me.
I'm a normal person just like you, and my hubby also reminded me that normal people have seasons in their lives like this. (Some of us even write about it to encourage others. Gulp.) But we aren't meant to stay there.
Slowly, little by little, the depression and anxiety lifted. Then something else happened that totally blew me away. All of a sudden, I realized that I truly trusted God. I know we can continuously deepen it, but it was a stunning and unexpected revelation for a girl who finds it hard to trust others.
But how do you get to that place of trust and lifting Jesus high?
I’ll be honest and say that I never used to understand what it meant to delight in his presence truly. I mean, I'd indeed thank Father for being there for me. I'd study up on my identity in Christ. I loved singing worship songs on Sunday and prayer time with fellow believers. But how do you delight in his presence when the season of your life includes numbing pain—physical or otherwise?
How do you fix your eyes on him when you can’t sleep for the twenty-third night in a row? How do you lift him high when the tears pour down your face under a sky as overcast as your soul feels? How do you adore him when you can’t seem to put one step in front of the other?
Going through times like this is when the Lord’s presence becomes the dearest thing in your entire life. As the bride of Christ, we look to our bride-groom and choose to see Him at all times despite our feelings.
We enjoy his presence on those dark and emotional days. We lift him so high that the things of the world melt away in his beautiful presence.
But what does it look like in daily life? I've indeed had to discover that for myself.
Seeking his face is not a desperate "Where are you, God?" kind of searching. No, he is always with you. It is keeping our eyes fixed on Jesus Christ no matter the events swirling around.
It looks like closing your eyes and throwing back your head to look through spiritual eyes when your natural ones show you nothing but impossible circumstances. It looks like lying down on the floor; arms stretched as high as they can go, praising and singing to him even as the pain burns inside your gut. It's telling him how much you love him and how good he's been to you when you don’t feel like it. It's worshiping him for his faithfulness—even in the eclipse of joy and peace. It's letting his love wash over you in lonely places. It is feeling his presence more than any other human on this earth.
During the first few minutes of praising God on a despairing day, I feel like I am nothing but a hypocrite—offering up something my emotions can’t even touch. I praise you, Lord. I am so thankful that you are with me. You are so beautiful. I am desperate for you. You are living water to me. Oh, how precious you are.
At first, it feels like Christian jargon and a bunch of mumbo-jumbos, honestly. But I press on, and by the third or fourth time, I fall into my new desires and heart-felt devotion. It’s who I am, after all, and I won’t let the enemy tell me otherwise.
I look and behold Jesus’ beauty, and my soul feels a thousand times better. Every time.
He is the source of life. Our Jireh—our provider. The God who sees. The God who never leaves. The one who treats us always with kindness, compassion, and mercy, even when we fail. The one who tenderheartedly lifts us onto his back and carries us when we cannot walk another step. The one who willingly raised his hands to the nails as your face appeared in his mind.
Now, when I do not feel the peace in my spirit, I do not ask for it. When I do not feel joy, I do not seek that fruit. His word says I already have every spiritual blessing. So instead, I magnify Jesus. I lift him higher in my circumstances, in my presence, in my mind, and my focus.
I turn my attention singularly to him, his beauty, and how precious he is.
And when I do this, the peace and joy come automatically without me even trying for it. The trust I sought for so long does, too. Go figure. Who knew it worked that way?
Remember my friend's prophetic message? She would have had no clue how it would become my new song at the time.
"Don't seek outcomes, Aleisha. Seek Father's face. That's where the joy is."
My friend, how right you are.
In this answer I received of Jesus’ face, my ministry has taken a bit of a turn. A few posts I've written in the past six months sit mutely in my feed. I've not had the clearance from Holy Spirit to publish them.
"Why not," I had asked him, but no answer was forthcoming. I imagine I wasn’t ready to receive the response then. Now I realize that everything I write—should I continue to do so—will have an overall arching message of seeking his face and delighting in his presence first and foremost.
My precious Jesus, I’m letting your new song have its way with me. You told me that. I listened. How could I not?
Thank you so much for what you did for me during this time when I couldn’t seem to go on. How precious you are to me. How amazing. How beautiful. How I love you.
Father, I adore you.
Jesus, I adore you.
Sprit, I adore you.
That's my new message—the preciousness of Jesus Christ crucified for me. That's the only message. Seek the face of Jesus and find everything the soul needs. Everything. It’s all contained in Him.
Dare to whisper, “Show me, Jesus.” And He will.
I’ve witnessed it happen in my own life. I’ve felt and tasted all of the changes He has done in me through adoring Jesus. Now my only day's goal is to spend time every day delighting myself in the Lord.
I love how the New King James Version quotes Hebrews 12:2. “Looking unto Jesus, the author, and finisher of our faith.”
He starts the work inside us and he finishes it. We get to enjoy praising him in every moment and place in between—all while we are securely placed inside Christ.
So, my friends, may I encourage you to simply confess your desire for the things of Christ more than Christ Himself and ask him to see you through your discovery? He appreciates and honors such honesty, and he will answer you with himself.
Do you have gut-wrenching fear? Seek his face.
Do you question God's private love for you? Seek His face.
Do you seek direction for a costly decision? Seek His face.
Do you question how to trust him more? Seek his face.
Hide yourself in Jesus Christ. Allow his love to wash over you.
Turn your eyes upon Jesus. Look full in his beautiful face. And the things of earth will grow strangely dim, in the light of his glory and grace.
May I drive the point home once again?
Above all, seek his precious and beautiful face, my friends. That’s where the joy is.
p.s. Feel free to share this post with anybody who is struggling. You are not alone, my friend. Never alone. Feel free to reach out privately at any time.
Listen to a wonderful song here (Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus) by Hillsong Worship. Hillsong United is in my hometown tonight and I am beyond excited to attend. I hope this one is played!