Whenever I See Your Smiling Face

“And what a relief to see your friendly smile. It is like seeing the face of God!”

Genesis 33:10

            I got a new smartphone recently. We are now a four-phone family. Research conducted by my oldest son Sam revealed that we would do best by purchasing a certain brand of phone, which we did through Amazon. The only drawback to obtaining our phones this way is that I couldn’t transfer all my contacts from my old phone to my new one. This meant that I spent hours creating new contact information: name and phone numbers.

            One feature I like on my phone is a feature that allows me to download the picture of my contact. Now, when I receive a call or a text, with it I see the smiling faces of my loved ones, work colleagues and friends.

            The words at the top of this page were spoken by Jacob to his brother Esau. They might not be the most sincere words ever spoken, but I like them all the same. Jacob and Esau were twins. They were night and day different and they never got along. Jacob, with plenty of help from his Mom, cheated Esau out of a sizeable inheritance. Esau was a big, burly mountain man who could kill you in 30 seconds. Esau, when he discovered what his younger brother did to him, promised to do all sorts of nasty things when he got his hairy hands on him. If you could say nothing else positive about Jacob, you could say that he was smart enough to run away.

            Time passed and now the brothers are about to meet face to face. I can see Jacob sweating as he sees his brother for the first. Jacob piles it on, double-high. He compliments Esau about everything: You look terrific! Your wife and children all look like fashion models! I love your car and your house! Did I tell you how good you look? Jacob’s best line was this: “And what a relief to see your friendly smile. It is like seeing the face of God!”

            Maybe Jacob only said that because he was hoping his brother wouldn’t crush him there and then. And maybe out of his fear and dread Jacob was saying something deeply significant. The face of friend or one you love does bring relief, doesn’t it? And that small sense of relief is nothing compared with seeing the smiling face of God. And I believe that when we face God we find a friendly, smiling, loving face.

            The Gospel of John starts by describing the Word of God, whom we know as Jesus. The Word, John says, was with God from the beginning. The word “with” means “face-to-face”; and I think that’s a clue for us that the best way to look at those we love is face to face, with nothing between us—no phones, laptops, magazines or TV’s. Let’s look at each other that way. You will find relief in that friendly smile. You’ll find the face of God.