In moments of intense joy the human face is radiant. When the soul is depressed, the face is sad, the eye is dark and it seems that instead of showing itself in the face and speaking through it, the soul has turned it into a mask behind which to hide itself. We see a connection therefore between joy and bright colors; between sorrow and half-tints, until mourning expresses itself in black.

The same antithesis meets us when we enter the world of spirits. Satan is pictured in somber colors, while good angels are always seen as kindly appearances of light. In the house of many mansions there is everlasting light; for Satan there is outer darkness. The righteous shall shine as the sun in the firmament, clothed in garments of light. On Patmos Christ appears to John in blinding glory.

This beautiful thought of light as the expression of things that are pure and true and glorious, was bound to present itself in the world of 102 worship by application to God's majesty. God is light. In Him is no darkness at all. He dwells in light unapproachable, and Father of lights is his name. After the creation, therefore, when "darkness was upon the face of the deep," God could not appear in the created world without first sending forth the command: "Let there be light," and then there was light. The majesty of God revealed itself in a column of fire at the Red Sea, in a cloud of light in Solomon's Temple. When Moses was to be marked in a special way as the Lord's ambassador, his face shone with blinding splendor. The Savior showed himself on Tabor in light of glistening brightness. And in the descriptions of the New Jerusalem the climax of its splendor is that there shall be no more sun nor moon there, for that by his benign presence God himself shall lighten the world of glory.

Sacred art has long expressed this by representing the head of Christ and of saints surrounded by an halo and their form in glistening robes. We do not treat this here from its material side. It is well known that certain people, who are strongly impregnated with magnetism, are able to make electric rays of light go out from their finger tips. We need not doubt that radiancy of face in moments of great joy is connected with natural operations. But the source of this facial light is not in the magnetic current, but in the spirit, in the soul, and all the rest is used merely as vehicle and means of direction.

He who watches a child, which never hides anything, an enthusiastic child with rosy cheeks, in such moments of great gladness, observes in the outward play of countenance that the eyes dilate 103 and increase in brightness; that the facial color heightens so that it shines through and radiates, and that especially by great mobility the soul reflects itself in the face. This reflection in part is even permanent. Alongside of the noble countenance of self-sacrificing piety, there is the brutish, dull, expressionless face of the sensualist. In the case of young, delicate persons especially, who have the fire of youth in their eye and whose complexion is transparent, the expression of the nobility of soul in the face is sometimes unsurpassably sympathetic in its colorings.

Thus the sacred language which speaks of "walking in the light of God's countenance" (Ps. 89:15), is naturally explained by life itself. With God everything material falls away. But the rich, full expression of the spiritual and the essential remains. God can not step outside of his hiding except as everything that reveals itself is majesty, radiancy, animation and glory. That this may also be a revelation in anger, is self-evident. But this we let pass. We deal with the fact that there is a soul which seeks after God, and finds God, and which, happy in this finding, looks into his holy face and drinks in everything it reads there. This brings but one experience, which is that no darkness proceeds from God but only light, soft, undulating, refreshing light in which the flower bud of the heart unfolds itself.

This is the first effect. Gloomy people may be pious, but they do not know the daily tryst with God. They do not see God in the light of his countenance, and do not walk in it. Even when they who in other ways are brave and heroic get dark lines in their face, it only shows that they 104 are out of the light of God's countenance and are striving to regain it. Even among us a kind face, beaming with sympathy, is irresistable and draws out the light from the face of others, which expresses itself first of all in a generous smile.

But this is much stronger with the Lord. We can not look at God in the light of his countenance without having the gloom of our faces give place to higher relaxation. For in the light of God's countenance we know Him. When it shines out, his spirit draws near to make us see, observe and feel what God is to us. Not in a doctrinal way, not in a point of creed, but in utterances of the spirit of unnamable grace and mercy, of overwhelming love and tenderness, and of Divine compassion, which enters every wound of the soul at once and anoints it with holy balm.

The light of God's countenance shining on us compasses us about and closes us in. It lifts us up into a higher sphere of light. And as on the wings of it we feel ourselves carried by the care, the providence and almighty power of God. In the light of God's countenance everything, our whole life included, becomes transparent to us, and through every Golgotha we see the glory that looms up from it. The light of God's countenance shines through us and leaves nothing covered in us of the sins that are covered by grace. This can not be otherwise, for the moment we are aware that the light of God's face shines through our person, all hiding of sin is futile. Differently than X-rays, it shines through our whole heart and life, including our past. Nothing is spared. It is an all-penetrating light which nothing can arrest.


Thus the light of God's countenance ought to frighten us, and yet--it does not. And it can not do this, because it lays bare to us the fulness of grace which is alive in the Father-heart of God. When anyone does not believe in the entire forgiveness of sin, God hides his face from him. Only when faith in the atonement operates in full does the light of the Divine countenance shine upon, compass and penetrate us.

And then comes the "walking in that light." Walking here implies that not only occasionally we catch a beam of the light of the Divine countenance, but that it has become permanent for us. That is, it is there for our good, even when we do not think of it, and that we regain it every time our soul longs for it. And so we continue to walk the pathway of our life, from day to day, in the light of the Divine countenance. No longer inspired by our own phantasies, no more spurred on by the ideals of the world, which have shown themselves deceptive, and no longer with a dark heaven above us, in which at most a single star still glitters, but we go on by the light which is above the light of the sun and by the outshining of ever fuller grace in the light of the countenance of God.

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