I had the wonderful experience recently of reading the C. S. Lewis novel “Till We Have Faces” and was enthralled. The story is a twist on the myth of Cupid and Psyche and seemed to me endless with deep analogy to the Christian experience. The main character, Orual, wears a veil which both hides her ugliness and gives her a certain power among her people. She has deep grievance against the gods and is allowed to come before them to present her complaint, after which she says:
The complaint was the answer. To have heard myself making it was to be answered. Lightly men talk of saying what they mean. Often when he was teaching me to write in Greek the Fox would say, “Child, to say the very thing you really mean, the whole of it, nothing more or less or other than what you really mean, that’s the whole art and joy of words.” A glib saying. When the time comes to you at which you will be forced at last to utter the speech which has lain at the center of your soul for years, which you have, all that time, idiot-like, been saying over and over, you’ll not talk about joy of words. I saw well why the gods do not speak to us openly, nor let us answer. Till that word can be dug out of us, why should they hear the babble that we think we mean? How can they meet us face to face till we have faces?
This part tugged at my spirit and I pondered it for several days, puzzling over whether I fully comprehended the meaning.
At the same time, I was conflicted spiritually over a personality flaw of mine that was rearing its ugly head. I struggle at times with criticism (of self and others), over-sensitivity, and the need for approval which lately and especially from teenage children seems very elusive. I have confessed my sin of looking for approval anywhere but to God; I have committed to always place him first; I have prayed for the Spirit to change my heart; I have deplored and repented of my self-centeredness; and I have cursed hormones. And yet in certain situations, I continue to react as I always have done and feel trapped in this pattern.
Romans 12 tells me to “no longer be conformed to the patterns of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of my mind” and I truly want to. I know that means knowing His Word and letting its truth renew my thinking and attitude. It means rejecting the old patterns and letting His Spirit transform me into a new person. Seeking more insight on how to be transformed, I was led to 2 Cor. 3:11
“But whenever a man turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away. Now the Spirit is the Lord and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is Liberty. But we all, with unveiled face beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as from the Lord, the Spirit.”
Wow, insight for my current struggle, but also light on the subject of the book. How can we meet God face to face until we have faces? Some might accuse God of facelessness, but it is we who hide behind a veil. We cannot truly see God with the veil down, nor do we let God see us. Orual hid her ugliness behind a veil which both protected her and imparted a sense of power. We have been doing the same since our beginnings in the Garden.
A beautiful aspect of our spiritual union with Christ is to know and be known, fully, face-to-face. God comes to us and reveals his face to us in Christ. Only in Christ is our veil taken away. When we come to Him to lift our veil, we express a willingness to trust and find our protection in Him alone, forsaking all others, even ourselves. In His face we see beauty, power, truth, honor, faithfulness and all that is good. We see the Lord’s love and acceptance written all over his face. As we look to Christ, we begin to reflect his glory, little by little, and as our ugliness begins to fade and we are transformed more and more into his image, becoming the bride he chose from the beginning.
~ Jan Seirensen