Tuesday, September 20, 2011

The All-Satisfying Face of God

"You fill their womb with treasure; they are satisfied with children, and they leave their abundance to their infants.
As for me, I shall behold your face in righteousness; when I awake, I shall be satisfied with your likeness."
Psalm 17:14-15

My kids and I have started a new morning ritual this school year. Every day, as we make our way to their school, one of them reads a Psalm aloud. After the Psalm, there is a moment of silence and then a prayer. That quiet moment between the psalmist's prayer and our own is one of the most tangibly (and yet intangible) holy moments of my day. The Lord has spoken prayers into our hearts, and as the truck engine rattles and hums its doxology, we silently prepare our hearts to respond in kind. By May, we will have traversed our way through the streets, through the school year, and through the Psalter with our prayers for mercy, justice, and jubilation over both.

Last week, Noah read Psalm 17 for us. I have probably read this Psalm numerous times, but it took my 10-year-old son reading these verses about children for me to more deeply understand what this prayer means. It is a prayer about satisfaction.

The wonder of humanity is that we are all creatures and creators at once. We were made to live and we live to make. We build, write, shape, draw, and compose. We each utter new sentences every day that have never been spoken since the dawn of man. And like our Maker, we always end up with creations that bear a remarkable resemblance to ourselves. All of our writings are biographies, and all of our paintings are self-portraits. No wonder we think so much of our own work; it's like looking into a mirror at only the best part of ourselves. And we are satisfied with what we see, our own likeness. Our children are the perfect picture of this phenomenon. We have "created" them, and in many ways, they are a reflection of ourselves. (Not to mention they really do look just like us.) The psalmist says that we are ultimately satisfied with these treasures, our works and our own creations, because they bear our own image and likeness.

Realizing our bent to seek satisfaction in ourselves, the psalmist's final words fall like an iconoclastic hammer upon the mirrored halls of our hearts. He says, "When I awake, I shall be satisfied with your likeness." The psalmist is not content to stare at his own pale reflection in the window. He looks beyond the refraction to a vast display of God's creation which bears His image. Having seen the sun, he can no longer be satisfied with the dim, secondary light of the moon. He awakens with the dawn and turns his sight toward the One whose eyes are "like blazing fire" and whose face is "like the sun shining in all its brilliance." There is only one likeness which can bring true pleasure, true satisfaction. It is the face of God.

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