Having lived in Japan for almost 8 years wearing facemasks is quite normal to me. My brother ordered some a few weeks ago but because of demand he is still waiting for them to be delivered, so when I stumbled upon a pair in Poundland I thought I had hit the jackpot. They were huge, made of thick black foam with Velcro straps – imagine Darth Vader.
I was reassured but surprised at how big they were – one would have covered most of my face providing me with excellent protection for my mouth, nose, eyes and ears. But upon closer inspection of the label I discovered to my great disappointment and embarrassment that I was inspecting kneepads. Nevertheless, they would be more effective than underpants on the head so I knee–ly bought them anyway (bad–dum–tss), but I eventually decided not to as I would have struggled to see.
I have an aunt who lives in Paris and works as a nurse who was forced to treat patients without being issued a mask for her own protection. And lo and behold today I heard that she and her husband have now tested positive for the virus – so please pray for them and their family.
I don’t know if any of you are wearing masks these days if and when you go out. I suspect that some are. But all of us can identify with the concept of wearing a proverbial mask – of trying to keep up appearances; of covering up what’s really going on deep inside – because hiding is a tendency of fallen humanity.
But now perhaps more than ever is a time for us to seek to be honest with God, with ourselves, and with one another. To be open about our hopes and our fears, to ask for help when and where we need it, to be vulnerable and to be willing to look beyond just our own needs to those of others.
Faced with this great difficulty we have an unusual opportunity to take off our masks – to reassess and rethink our lives in one way or another – so that we may see God more clearly, and walk with Him and one another more closely (please don’t forget the 2–meter rule).
Many of us (myself included) were probably guilty of hiding behind very busy lives, full of noise and distraction. But the restrictions that we have been placed under are forcing us to STOP.
Of course, life can and may still be busy within our own four walls, but what a setting this is to return to the basics of our faith – to prayer, to God’s Word, to spending time sitting at the feet of Jesus. And as a result of being strengthened in our relationships with Him, being strengthened in our relationships with one another.
Recently I’ve been spending more time reading the Bible and in prayer – perhaps I should have bought the kneepads after all. And for many families this is proving to be a golden chance to spend more quality time together and to be intentional in forming new habits. And praise God for the wonders of technology that enable many of us to stay connected virtually with those we don’t live with – indeed, here we are now.
God wants us to put aside pretence and to desire to be authentic – with Him, and with one another. Reading through the Gospels Jesus was often scathing of the Pharisees because they tried to present themselves as having everything all together, when inwardly their hearts were so hard.
What is the condition of our own hearts today? There’s no hiding from God – just think back to Adam and Eve. We are fully known – everything we say, do, and think. And what a terrifying thing that would be if it weren’t also true that we are also fully loved. There is nothing that we can do to ever make God love us more, and there is nothing that we can do to ever make God love us less. We are fully known, and we are fully loved by Him. And this frees us to become people of greater authenticity – to live life without our masks.
In the Old Testament Moses was summoned up Mount Sinai by God to enter into His Presence on behalf of Israel, and as he returned to the people his face shone so brightly with the glory of the Lord that He had to cover himself to protect them, even though the glory was fading. Because of the payment for and defeat of our sin at the cross the veil that symbolically kept us from complete access to God was torn, and now through faith in Jesus we may each for ourselves enter into and enjoy God’s Presence in worship! We can meet with God – whenever, wherever, for we have unlimited, unbridled access.
2 Corinthians 3:18 says this:
And we all, who with unveiled faces contemplate the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his imag e with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.
God wears no mask – the veil has been torn – and we can draw near to Him. And as we contemplate His glory and look upon His face, so more of Christ’s likeness radiates from us to those around. Just as the moon has no light in itself but acts as a mirror for the sun, so too we reflect the light of the Son of God, shining on us, and shining through us.
Our lives, put simply, are reflections of our relationship with God, so let’s take off our masks and come back to the basics and the wonder of seeking God – of delighting ourselves in Him – that we may see and shine His light in this time of great darkness.