A few nights ago, I looked up at the stars and the beauty of the night sky and thought I saw God smile. I looked around and began to think to myself “what have I done to bring Him that kind of joy and pleasure recently”? Was it my devotion to Him that pleased Him? Was it a carry-over from our earlier conversation about good life-choices? Was it my gift to someone in need?…Oh yes, that must be it. Yesterday when I gave to that poor woman. He was surely happy about that. That must’ve be the reason for His smile. I’ll keep trying to do those things.

I often find myself looking up at Him after I’ve done some “noble deed”. I guess I need to see that He is as happy as I think He should be. In contrast, when I fail, I don’t look up. Don’t get me wrong, I still go talk to him and repent and all that. I just go with downcast eyes and try to get it all cleared up, you know, BEFORE I look…you see, I didn’t plan to fail. I just I don’t want to see His eyes at that moment. I don’t want to see Him NOT smiling at me. The cloud of gray hovers over me in those moments like a heavy coat. It’s colder too. I wait until I think enough time has passed before I look at Him again. I need to see He’s happy with me.

But then today something happened. I’ve wondered about this for awhile now. You could say that I have been a bit confused.  I saw something…He was smiling at a friend of mine.  My friend had been very wrong in so many ways and for such a long time. I mean, it seems like it would take a lot for Him to smile at this person…surely a few years of devotion and sacrifice at least. You don’t just get His smile for nothing. I was sure I would see condemnation. That’s what I expected. For the first time ever, I looked at Him when He was speaking to another person, my friend. No risk, it wasn’t me and I somehow needed this confirmation. There my friend stood, all broken, looking just like I do when I fail, but he had failed for so long. My friend wasn’t looking down or away.  He was looking at Him. I looked at Him too…then I looked again. I was bewildered.  He was not only smiling, His arms were outstretched and through the smile, there were also tears. They were tears of care, yearning…mostly love. How can this be? It surely isn’t that way for me. Maybe He expects more of me? Is that why? He doesn’t smile at me like that when I’ve done wrong. I’m just sure.  I remember the gray shadows and how it feels. I’m sure. I try to talk and reason with myself, trying to assure myself. Yes, I’ve known Him for a long time. I would know this. But I’m sure you can guess what happened at my next moment of failure.  I was tormented with questions.  Should I look for myself? I felt like I couldn’t but also that I couldn’t help BUT look. I approached Him with the gray all around me, eyes cast down as usual. Nothing was different. I could almost feel the gray wrap itself around me. Yes, I’m sure. He’s disappointed and His face is scowling. The fight to look at Him was fierce. Look. Don’t look. Look.  What was this war? Who/what is convincing me to keep my eyes cast down?  For the first time EVER I considered that another one was putting these thoughts in my mind. Surely this was how He wanted me to approach Him, right? It was then the realization of years of believing lies and succumbing to utter defeat hit me so fiercely that I stumbled back.  I’d never before fallen before Him. I tried to catch myself with my hands, to regain some semblance of composure…but I fell, and as I fell back, my eyes glanced upward to His gaze. I lay there weeping, gasping at the sight of Him.  The sun was shining so brightly around me and warmth enveloped me.  HE WAS SMILING with arms stretched toward me. I felt Him and all His power as He touched me and lifted me up.  I looked down in amazement, and it was then I realized that the posture of my downcast gaze made the shadow.  I looked up to Him again with wonder. We were both smiling.