My God be gracious to us and bless us
and make His face to shine upon us,
that Your way may be known on earth,
your saving power among all nations.

Ps. 67:1-2

It is this passage Amber and I had as the vision for our family when we got married nearly 15 years ago.

I love how James Bryan Smith talks through the idea of God’s face “shining upon us”. He says it is God basically saying, “Hey guys, I am smiling at you and I really want you to know that.”

It is this smile of God that I talked about at our annual HVG Board Meeting on February 3.

This year I have been praying incessantly that as an organization and personally, we would live into the smile of God, and in turn, live the smile of God to others.

I remember some quite distinct times in my life not too many years ago that I thought the smile of God was just some type of “fluffy theology”. This was when I had an inordinate focus on sin. It was the mentality of one theologian who said, “Be killing sin or sin will be killing you.” In other words, my view was sin centric. Grace was simply about salvation from sin.

I have since turned from this thinking and learned to rest in the Goodness Declaration of Genesis 1 and 2.

Grace always has been, always is, and always will be.

All of creation is an expression of grace. Every particle of being was originally created with goodness infused.

Now, do not get me wrong. Sin is real and sin is devastating. Yet, as has been said by many, “Sin is a blot on the Story, it is not The Story.” Long before sin broke on the scene, grace was. Long after all will be made new and sin will be eradicated, grace will continue.

You and I are made in His image.

The image of a kind, loving, and graceful God.

A God who looks like The Prodigal’s Dad in Luke 15.

When we rest in the goodness of God and see He has made us to image this goodness, sin becomes even more devastating than the view I had in years past. Yet, it allows us to see sin as a mutation of goodness and therefore, gives practical traction of “rooting sin out” by finding what good has been mutated and then living into the goodness.

The smile of God is real.

I pray you allow His tender touch to not only root out what is not of Him in your life, but that you would also see you have a tremendous amount of goodness and holiness in you. Live from the storehouse of being loved. He will never leave you or forsake you.

Live loved,

Vernon