A sea of faces

The first picture God ever showed me was powerful. It seemed to come out of nowhere. I was riding in the car along with Brian on a road trip. We were newly married, I think. I had faded off to sleep, as I tend to do on rides lasting more than an hour. Suddenly this amazing sight of Jesus on the cross met the back of my eyelids. It was beautiful and strong. He hung there suspended on a cross between time and eternity. He looked at me.

I couldn’t make out features. It wasn’t “and I saw the face of God” kind of vision. But I knew it was Him, if I didn’t know it by the accessory of the cross, I knew it by the love and grace and mercy that poured from Him. The moment wasn’t about me taking Him in. The moment, the flash of a second really, was about Him recognizing me…Him taking me in…Him saying without any words, “I know you.” I remember feeling like I needed to catch my breath the magnitude of the vision was so strong, and it settled in my heart what He was saying. He was telling me that He did it for me. He was showing me in so many ways that it was His love for me specifically that He bore those thorns, and carried that cross, and took those nails. For me.

No sooner was I grasping the amazing truth of those words than there was a flood of pictures, people by the thousands! Maybe even millions! In one flash He gave them the same message that He showed me – His love and intention. It was intimate and specific for ALL of us! Now, I should note that this was before we saw movies where you had the super sonic flash of frame upon frame, sped up so fast if you blinked you might miss one or twenty images. And each flash held meaning and the words echoed, “I know you…” In those flashes every tribe and every nation, every combination of color imaginable was represented in every walk of life… Every last one of them He saw from the cross- every last one of US.

If you’ve ever thought, “He didn’t really do that for me. That’s just a pastor’s emotional tribute to pull on my heart strings.” I can say with certainty, I saw you. I might not be able to recognize you if I saw you on the street, or even in a line up, but I know that in all those millions of flashes, you were there! And you know it too, if you will allow yourself to believe. You felt His eyes, you reverberated with the beat of His heart that echoes loudly in yours, “I know you.” He didn’t hang from that cross thinking, “Don’t you see what you did? Don’t you see what I endured for you?” He hung from that cross and His blood poured out and He saw your face and said, “I know you.”

And in that “know” He means: “I see you now as I saw you then. I loved you from that cross. I knew that in that moment I was taking away all your guilt and all your shame, and it was worth it to me…you are worth it. Even you who do not know me and do not care to know me…I know you. I saw your pierced face and your tattoos and your hurt and your pain and I wanted it on me so that you could walk away free. I saw your sin and your hidden secrets and I bore their consequences on my shoulders so that you wouldn’t have to hide. I looked past religion and rules and knew that you would never measure it up, and that broke my heart because I love you. So I tore the veil away and I made the path to my Father wide open…so that you would never say you weren’t welcome…weren’t loved…weren’t worthy. I created you, I named you, I see you, and I know you. You are mine.”

In a sea of faces, each one stood out. It was a powerful vision…and it will always stick with me. It was seared on my heart. Not just the dream of a weary traveler, but a vision from a gracious Lord that will stop at NOTHING to remind us of His amazing Love.