Face to Face

"...they will call him Immanuel, which means ‘God is with us.’” (Matt. 1:23, NLT)

This Christmas holiday will be the first time my wife and I have not been together with our children during this very special season. Travel restrictions due to Covid and the lengthy quarantine required to enter Guam have made getting together not possible this year. While we are super grateful for technology that allows us to text, video chat and to experience Christmas virtually, it’s just not the same as enjoying each other’s presence while opening presents and relaxing together with the backdrop of Christmas carols and the scent of seasonal candles and freshly baked pies.  Strangely enough, Christmas day has not even arrived yet and I find my thoughts already in the future to next Christmas when, God willing, we will be able to enjoy time together face to face.

This year, the impression has come deeply upon me about what God must feel like each and every day He is apart from the human family that He loves so dearly. After creating Adam and Eve, Genesis tells us that He spent time with His children face to face. There is evidence that He may have even come each day to take an evening walk with them[1]. But then everything changed. An evil intruder, called sin, entered the world and didn’t make it possible for God to be in person with his kids anymore. This was simply not acceptable to God. He planned a special face to face visit with His children during which time He, through unbelievable pain and sacrifice to Himself, made sure to take care of the problem that separated them from Him. At the end of His visit, He told them plainly, “I’m coming back to get you, because wherever I am, I want you to be right there with me” (John 14:3). In the meantime, though it was not preferred, long distance communication would just have to do. God communicates in various ways to His kids, especially through His texts which help His children know He loves them and looks forward to being together again. His children talk to Him on a daily basis and relish the time they get to speak to Him. But nothing, in God’s eyes, takes the place of just being together, really together, and enjoying each other’s presence in person. In one of His texts, that is in all caps, God shouts that He can’t wait to be together as a family again[2].

Even though the Norton family won’t be together in person this Christmas, we are already looking forward to next year. During this holiday season, I’m thankful to be able to experience on a very small scale what God must feel like every day He is separated from us. My prayer is that you, His child, will look forward to being together with Him as much as He longs to be with you – face to face.

[1]“And they heard the sound of the LORD God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and Adam and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the LORD God among the trees of the garden.” (Gen. 3:8, NKJV)

[2]“I heard a loud shout from the throne, saying, “Look, God’s home is now among his people! He will live with them, and they will be his people. God himself will be with them.” (Rev. 21:3, NLT)

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