Until They Have Faces

Indy faces

Faces. Masses of humanity in myriads of colors and shapes. Everywhere. There is no escaping the mess of breathing, living beings.

And sometimes that’s exactly how we see these faces. They mean nothing to us but another unknown person. We are apathetic because strangers don’t concern us.

Or maybe they are cause for anger, annoyance, or fear.

We fear what we do not know or understand.

We are unmoved because they are unknown.

Indifferent. Unchanged.

Until they are more than faces.

In the past few weeks, I have had the honor of really meeting some people. People with names, dreams, likes, fears, lives. People with faces.

It is hard to be indifferent once you’ve met someone.

Faces are doors to the soul. Stories are painted on canvases of humanity. Joy and sorrow dance on the same backdrop. On faces. We read faces in the exact same way we read books.

Faces are important to God. Seeking the Lord’s face is referenced several times in the Bible (1 Chron. 16:11, Ps. 27:8, 2 Chron. 7:14). And being made in the image of God, faces should also be important to us. In the Psalms, David pleads with God to not hide his face from him (Ps. 27:9, 69:17, 102:2).

God wants us to turn towards him—face him. Come to him.

In return, we want to be seen by him. To followers of Jesus, there is nothing quite as awful as the feeling that God has turned away from us. Pain and suffering are easier to bear, if we know that we are seen. That the face of God is looking at us. We need the light of God’s countenance to rest on us.

Likewise, we want to be seen by our fellow human beings. We need to tell our silent stories. Naturally, we long for others to look us square in the face, to acknowledge our existence, to simply see us.

And that is exactly what we should be doing in return. Honor the breath of God in the lungs of strangers by acknowledging their existence, their importance as God’s creation, their worth as people that Christ died for. We need to see them until they have faces.

See them to hear them to know them.

A couple weeks ago, I met my neighbor. This neighbor had been living in my building for about nine months. He and his friends drove me crazy with their late-night noise, middle of the night smoke breaks, and their less than desirable conversations.

But now…he has a name. He has a job. He has a story. We have a common interest—cats. He has a soul that Jesus died for. He has a face. I cannot dislike him. I cannot be indifferent or apathetic toward him anymore. I know him. Eyes have looked into eyes. We’ve laughed together. Shared pieces of our stories.

And then there were Eric, Amanda, Margaret, Heather, Hershel. People I will probably never see again. More people with stories, lives, hopes, fears, and dreams. But I never would have even gotten a glimpse into their lives, if I hadn’t seen them. Acknowledged them. Until they had faces.

Sometimes, we can be so busy, so preoccupied, so self-absorbed that we don’t see. Really see.

Jesus, would you help us see people the way you see them? Would we hear their stories like you did and do? And like you, would we see them, know them, and love them.

…until they have faces.



One year ago today, I wrote this piece about Harvard. How can it be that it has been 1 1/2 years since he went away?


Exactly six months ago, my bestest friend went home to be with Jesus. Knowing the gracious, beautiful heart of Jesus makes me think that He is probably incredibly happy having Harvard back with Him. And Harvard? I doubt he knew what happened to him when he breathed in the air of heaven and saw the smiling face of God above him.

There is not a day that goes by that I don’t miss my greatest earthly love. Once in a rare while, I hear him. Old cat nails scratching out a staccato rhythm on the hard floor. Old, raspy meow demanding I rub his head and tell him something wonderful about himself. Old, cow-patterned fur just dying for me to touch and brush. Old eyes staring into mine, telling me his love would drain the lake dry.

That is the cat I loved—and still love. That is the friend I miss with all my heart. The light of my life and joy of my soul.

Six months. How can it be that it has been that many months, that many days? And how can it be that it feels like just last week?

Harvard, do you know it will be another six months in just a flash of time? One, whole year will soon separate our lives. Sunrises and sunsets apart. Seasons and worlds away. Time and space preventing our lives from touching, connecting.

Dear one, my hair is far longer than you’d remember. You’d love chewing on it, I know. There are more wrinkles on my forehead from the sun and sadness and age. But I’ll always be eleven years old to you.

Our maple tree budded the week of Easter and was fully leaved just days after that. You would love it. There have been cardinals and squirrels in it. The rabbits play in the lot—they make me smile. And the lilacs—oh the lilacs!—they smell like the air of grace and heaven. There is something un-earthy about them, something that makes me long for heaven and Jesus and all that goodness so much more.

Dearest Harvard, I’m certain it is a very fine thing to be Jesus. I’m also equally certain it will be the very best beginning to the rest of my life when the day comes that I get to be with both you and Jesus in the same place. Forever.