Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were uneducated, common men, they were astonished. And they recognized that they had been with Jesus. Acts 4:13 (ESV)
When I, the returned Prodigal, first began praying for my own loved ones to come to faith, I prayed in the flesh. I prayed from a place of unbelief, rooted in pride and self. And yet, even in that place, God saw my true desire to know Him in His death and resurrection.
He honored the tiny mustard seeds of faith – the Word He had fed me since I was a little girl- that lay buried and dormant in my heart. He took them and broke them open unto life.
Each seed began to unfurl and flourish and bloom, by the power of the Holy Spirit that He poured out upon me, as I sat at His feet. Physically, at first, nothing changed, but spiritually: everything. For, my heart awakened, quickening to the touch of the Holy Spirit.
As I began to pray, rather than compelling me to plead for my loved ones’ rescue, the Holy Spirit compelled me to arise in thanksgiving and praise. He placed one Promise from God’s Holy Word after another before my eyes and invited me to take His hand and walk into the truth of my loved ones’ salvation in Christ Jesus. And then, He commanded me to look for proof of His Presence at work in them.
I was astounded to find Him so very present, where I had deemed Him absent. He led me to so much repentance, as I gloried in His power and grace.
Psalm 105:3 (ESV) Glory in his holy name; let the hearts of those who seek the LORD rejoice!
Through it all, it was as if He was asking me afresh, what He had asked me, right at the start of my walk with Him: “Who do you say that I am, Anna?”
And as He did this, I continually found myself weeping before Him. Why? Because as I lifted up those Promises before Him, I was not just affirming my loved ones’ salvation, I was affirming my own salvation and redemption in the LORD.
I was shedding my own unbelief, rooted in pride and idolatry. I was taking off the accusations of condemnation I had allowed the enemy to clothe me in, to instead put on my breastplate of righteousness and belonging in Christ.
I was deflecting the darts of the enemy, as I picked up the shield of faith to declare every human rejection for doing the will of my Heavenly Father, as Christ’s choosing of me to be conformed unto His likeness and to pour out the love and comfort He was pouring into me, out upon others.
I was shaking off the dust of every place that did not receive Jesus in me and putting on the shoes of peace to walk into the knowledge of God’s completion of the good work He had begun in them and in me in each of these places.
I was laying down the works of the flesh and picking up the sword of truth to speak the Word of completion and wholeness into situations of incompletion and brokenness.
I was putting on my helmet of salvation, as I woke up daily to study and listen to the Word of God, to find God returning the Word to me, when prideful or selfish thoughts threatened to consume me. Instead, I found Christ consuming the dross in me, as each testing I faced proved the gold of His Presence and love in me.
I found myself laying down the thoughts the enemy was feeding me to instead exercise the mind of Christ and praise God for His good and perfect judgments in my life, even where these judgments were causing me such deep pain. It’s then my eyes began to open to see the beautiful grains of truth glistening in my hands.
And now, I know that Christ has been interceding in me, not just for others, but for me too. For, through it all, God has been purifying and cleansing my own heart, as I have prayed for and spoken the Word of God over others. He has been busy making His home in my own heart.
What I saw as God’s withholding as a child, I am now beginning to receive as His gift to me. When everything looks like it is falling apart, as we pray – trust me: it is. But only so that it can all fall into alignment, according to the will of the Father in Christ Jesus, in whom every Promise is Yes and Amen.
For, Christ is inviting us to let go of our worldly peace to receive His peace that passes all understanding. He is inviting us to let Him take off our masks of self-righteousness, that He might reveal the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in His face.
He is inviting us to let Him break open our hearts hardened by sin and rebellion to restore our faith in Him. He is holding out His new heart of flesh to us that we might hear, see and receive Him in ourselves and those He has set before us.
Truly, truly, just like Jesus prophesied over Peter in John 21:18, when I was young, I used to dress myself and walk wherever I wanted, but now that I am older, I am stretching out my hands, and Jesus is dressing me and carrying me where I do not want to go.
Numbers 16:28 (ESV) And Moses said: “By this you shall know that the Lord has sent me to do all these works, for I have not done them of my own will.
As I am ending up where I would never have chosen to go of my own accord, I am tasting a love, joy and peace beyond measure in the arms of my Jesus, through every trial that comes my way. By the grace of God, I am getting to know the One who knows me better than I know myself, the One I now experientially know to be faithful to His every Word.
In my Abba Father returning me to my stronghold of hope (Jesus), He has been pouring out a double portion of blessings. God has opened my eyes by faith to see Christ’s face reflected in myself and in those He has set before me. He has turned me back toward Himself, reminding me that He has already lifted the veil that once covered over His beauty glowing in me.
For, as He opened my heart to receive Him as a little girl, I turned towards Him and it’s then the veil hiding His face was lifted. No, nothing can ever separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus: not even the accusations of our enemy that condemn us in our weakness and need, and (temporarily) convince us to hide our sin and our pain from our God in shame. Even then, we remain hidden in Christ and His righteousness, as Jesus moves to intercede for us, to prove and reveal Himself in us and those around us.
Has the Holy Spirit turned you to look full in the wonderful face of Jesus with me, as you’ve been reading? I trust that He has. For, where the Spirit of our LORD is, there is freedom. It is the very breath of our God that lifts us up above the fray to see what He sees, that we might together in one accord celebrate Jesus and behold with unveiled faces Christ looking back at us in the mirror and in those He has set before us.
As Jesus beckons us into His arms of love and comfort through His Holy Spirit breathed Word, He opens our eyes to see Him face to face, where we haven’t before. There, touched by the Holy Spirit, we bow low to hear Him speak, to offer Him a cool drink, to clothe Him, to visit Him in prison and to affirm His never-forsaking Presence with those who thought He had abandoned them in their need, because we, the church of Christ, had put ourselves at the Head. Because we had shut our ears, our eyes and our hearts to the love of Jesus for us in our own pain. And in so doing, we could no longer see the beautiful face of Jesus in the “rebellious” ones before us either, because we became the “rebellious” ones ourselves – the ones in need of God’s holy touch: His comfort, compassion and mercy.
But praise God He is the God who opens the ears not just of the physically deaf, but the spiritually deaf too. Praise God He does not just open the eyes of the physically blind, but the spiritually blind too. And praise God no heart is too hardened in sin and rebellion for God to break open (again) that He might reveal eternity glowing there. I am living proof of that.
Celebrate Jesus and Behold Him Face to Face
Did you notice something? I have a new name for my book. No longer am I calling it Celebrate Jesus and Lift the Veil. No! Why? Because now I know the veil covering over our Prodigal loved ones has already been lifted. For, we, the redeemed, do not look to the seen, but to the unseen – we see not by sight, but by faith.
We live, even now, as the world is shaking around us, in the fulfillment of every Promise uttered from the mouth of our LORD. For, this shaking is about to reveal the unshakeable foundation of Jesus in our midst: the Son of God who is even now holding us and each one of our loved ones in the palm of His mighty, outstretched hands.
Will you join me for a final Scripture to soak in?
When you read the Scripture below aloud, what word or phrase lingers? Let’s ask the Holy Spirit to reveal why it lingers and what God our Father wants us to see, know or do in response to His Word to us.
Since we have such a hope, we are very bold, not like Moses, who would put a veil over his face so that the Israelites might not gaze at the outcome of what was being brought to an end. But their minds were hardened. For to this day, when they read the old covenant, that same veil remains unlifted, because only through Christ is it taken away. Yes, to this day whenever Moses is read a veil lies over their hearts. But when one turns to the Lord, the veil is removed. Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit.2 Corinthians 3: 12-18 (ESV)
As you close this book, may God bless you and keep you. May He make His face to shine upon you unto eternity, giving you a peace that passes all understanding, as you look to Jesus. For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross (Colossians 1:19-20, ESV).
Thank You, Papa, that by the power of the Holy Spirit in us, we shall never stop celebrating Jesus and His victory over sin and death for us. Thank You, Papa, that by Your resurrection power in us, we shall never stop beholding Your holy Son, our beloved Jesus, face to face, with our faces unveiled and our eyes, ears and hearts wide open to Your blessed love for us all! Oh may Your Kingdom come on earth as it is in heaven. In Jesus’ precious, Name, Amen.
Finally, brothers and sisters, rejoice! Strive for full restoration, encourage one another, be of one mind, live in peace. And the God of love and peace will be with you. 2 Corinthians 13:11 (NIV)