Holding a Face

Lauren, our youngest, was only a month old at the time. I had finished nursing her, and we were rocking, back and forth, slowly in the glider. I hummed, circling her tiny back gently with my hand as I listened to Moody Radio. This was our quiet spell each afternoon; the strong sun filtering through the sheer white curtains and dancing on the pinkest of walls. It was peaceful to hold my bundled baby girl close and whisper plans and dreams and wishes for our future.

Listening to Christian radio was soul balm in those days, too; I was happy but tired with four children under eight, homeschooling our oldest two sons and keeping up with the necessities of life. I steeped in the wisdom and courage and biblical application each radio guest brought to the airwaves.

That day a guest by the name of Dan Allendar was discussing what it meant to bless others in the midst of life, crisis, arguing, and dysfunction. He went on to say something that seared my heart: ultimately, we cannot control anyone else, nor do we determine outcomes. Our job is to pray for other people. As you pray, he continued, imagine tenderly cupping that person’s face; holding them up to the Lord. 

Yes.

Cupping and holding a face. As a child, Frances Hook’s painting, Jesus and the Children, hung in my bedroom. I would lay under my pale blue sheets at night, pretending I was the little girl in the painting being loved by Jesus. His hands, strong and caring, cupped my face. His gaze was more than loving, it was steady; fixed. I even imagined his words to me: I love you and you are mine. I felt safe while gazing at that painting; and sometimes I pressed my hand to his etched face, telling him I loved him.

I kept this to myself, a strong tendency of mine. Then, one day when I was twelve, we moved and the picture was never rehung. But now, patting my baby’s back, I could see that wonderful painting quite clearly.

I am sure Dan Allendar spoke other truths that day, but holding one’s face up high to the Lord in prayer wrapped me like a comforting blanket. I kept rocking Lauren, and as she slept, I began with her; my eyes closed, holding her baby face in sweet surrender and peace to the Lord. An offering. And then slowly my precious family, one by one : Marcus, Jacob, Caleb, and Jon. 

Even now, sixteen years later, in the hush of the evening, when all is still, and sleep eludes, I return to this communion and know that he hears my prayers; he is steadfast and perfect.

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