There is no deeper, more intense human longing than to know God is real and to see Him face to face.
Having a personal relationship with God is synonymous with being a Christian. We are told, in fact, that we must have such a relationship if we are truly God’s children. But if we are honest, we must admit that often there is a considerable gap between our talk and our experience.
We want to know God. The problem is that we don’t always know how to know Him.
This fall, I am going to be leading a Sunday morning class on that subject.
Thirty-four years ago, in the summer of 1986, Tim Stafford’s book, Knowing the Face of God, was first released. I had just finished up my second year in seminary and bought a copy.
I was enthralled by how applicable this book was. I was investing all kinds of hours reading and learning theology and the Bible, but nothing else so pointedly addressed my personal relationship with God. I liked the book so much that I led a Sunday School class of my peers (post-college aged, singles) through it. This was still two and a half years before I met my wife, Brenda.
I have to say, besides the Bible, Knowing the Face of God has probably been the most influential book on my life.
Through the years, I would remember a passage on a particular topic and would pull the book off my shelf to help me shape a lesson by borrowing an illustration or to just recall what Tim Stafford had written on a given topic. But it had been years since I read it cover to cover.
When COVID-19 shut down the school where I work, I was thinking it might be a good idea to read Knowing the Face of God once again. Instead of just reading it through, I decided to read one chapter a day. That was back in April and I haven’t stopped yet. I’m currently on my fourth time through the book this year.
I could not have imagined being so surprised by a book that I thought I already knew inside and out. I was blown away in realizing that the book I had enjoyed as a 24-year-old held up so well. In fact, there were all sorts of truths and insights that I could not have fully appreciated back then.
I’ve turned 58 years old during these re-reads and am now older than Tim Stafford was when he wrote it. All my years of Bible study for myself and teaching others, my years of walking with Christ, and my years of serving as a church elder have given me a new appreciation for the wisdom and insight contained in this book. In my opinion, it is the best explanation of the most important thing in life—a personal relationship with God.
Starting September 27th, a group of us will be reading Knowing the Face of God and then coming together on Sunday mornings to discuss one chapter each week.
We will simultaneously be meeting in person and via Zoom for those who do feel comfortable gathering in person.
The chapters of Knowing the Face of God range from 4 pages to 14 pages long with the majority of the chapters coming in at under 10 pages.
No book or lesson can make you have any kind of personal relationship, let alone a personal relationship with God. But our goal will be to collectively share our own experiences in growing in our relationship with God while learning from each other and Tim Stafford’s new perspectives on that most important relationship.