He set His face like flint.
These six words drifted around my conscious as I awoke on a Monday morning at my summer residence in Austin, Texas. Lately, Monday has meant for me the start of another long week of work—a daunting forty hours of labor standing between me and another weekend respite. Today begins week nine of ten of my internship, and my groggy head and drowsy eyes tell me that the end cannot come soon enough.
These six words persisted in my mind throughout the day. They met me in the office kitchen as I poured my cup of coffee. They sat on the shelf of my desk as I hacked away all day at my computer. They even accompanied me in the passengers seat of my car as I sat in rush hour traffic on the way home.
Okay God, I’m listening.
Every once in a while, the Lord speaks to me in this way—words whimsically swirling around in my thoughts, unrelenting until they find themselves written down on paper. And so here they are:
He set His face like flint.
When the Lord speaks, it’s in our best interest to listen. God spoke to me this particular morning, and with His words came a lesson to be learned. Before I unpack the meaning behind these six particular words, I want to first consider where they come from:
I offered my back to those who beat me, my cheeks to those who pulled out my beard; I did not hide my face from mocking and spitting. Because the Sovereign Lord helps me, I will not be disgraced. Therefore I have set my face like flint, and I know I will not be put to shame. // Isaiah 50:6-7
These are the words of our glorious Savior who suffered greatly, enduring scorn and shame on our behalf. It is these words that the disciple Luke brought to mind when he wrote his gospel:
As the time approached for him to be taken up to heaven, Jesus resolutely set out for Jerusalem. // Luke 9:51
It was the Father’s will for His Son to suffer and die for the sins of mankind. Jesus knew this well, and He still went. Let me repeat. My God knew exactly what you and I were going to cost him—his very life. He knew that it was going to be messy and painful, yet he followed the path marked out for him towards Jerusalem, setting his face like flint.
Flint is a very hard type of sedimentary rock. When struck against steel, a flint edge produces sparks to start a fire. Setting your face like flint implies that you’re expecting some opposition, to stand strong in the face of adversity. To set your face like flint means to regard these difficulties as worthwhile when you consider what they will lead you to.
When I learned the purpose of flint, I began to realize what these six words mean:
It means having the resolve to achieve the Lord’s purposes.
Jesus had countless opportunities to abandon the task He was sent to complete, yet he was unwavering with every step He took.When He told his disciples of the suffering He was going to endure in Jerusalem, they pleaded with him to choose an easier path, but He did not listen. Jesus was steadfast in achieving His purpose until He said, “It is finished”.
The Lord brought me to Austin this summer for His purposes. It is no accident that I ended up at Blackbaud interning with the Web Development & Services Team. My heart broke when I knew I had to tell Cole and Sean and Trish that I would not be working at T Bar M again this summer. Returning to camp would have meant choosing the easier, more familiar path. Instead, I took the plunge into the corporate world, away from the safe haven of an incredible camp community. It was not an easy choice to make. Working alongside nonbelievers on a daily basis is often discouraging. As I finish out these last two weeks of work, I’m praying that God would give me the determination to finish strong and not waver from the reasons as to why He brought me here.
It means often following a less glamorous path.
Jesus forfeited all of His glory and honor as He dwelt among men. 2 Peter says that He “made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness”. The Son of Man had no place to lay His head. He was persecuted, but turned the other cheek. In the face of temptation, He resisted.
Enter through the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the way is broad that leads to destruction, and there are many who enter through it. For the gate is small and the way is narrow that leads to life, and there are few who find it. // Matthew 7:13-14
I have to be honest. Sitting in front of a computer for 8-hours a day is not a glamorous way to spend a summer, however every single day I see more and more why it’s been worth it. I’ve been able to personally invest myself in the lives of some coworkers who don’t know the love of Jesus. I’m learning how to love people better, to see past their sin and shortcomings through a lens of grace, and to focus more on leading them towards truth.
It means carrying a heavy, broken heart for the world around you.
Setting your face like flint does not mean having a hard heart toward trials and persecution. Doing so is an act of overcompensation. As Jesus hung on the cross, He chose to forgive the very people who nailed Him there. Throughout His ministry, He was moved with compassion for the people he encountered, despite how messed up and broken their lives were.
It’s been challenging for me this summer to have compassion on my coworkers. Naturally, I tend to think that people won’t change. I have to remind myself time and time again: no one is past redeeming.
And from his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace. // John 1:16
I’ve received grace, and when I remember that, I am compelled to have grace and compassion towards others. Throughout my internship, I’ve come to know that my coworkers are actually really great people, and leaving them to go back to school is going to be bittersweet.
Do not lose heart.
Doing all of these things is not an easy task. Setting your face like flint takes a great deal of courage and perseverance. It makes for a weary soul. However, I am encouraged by my beloved Savior who has gone before me and succeeded in every way.
Consider him who endured such opposition from sinful men so that you will not grow weary and lose heart. // Hebrews 12:3
People become weary when they act without purpose. When the going gets rough, I need to take the time to pause and recognize the Lord’s purpose in what I am doing.
He is here, and He is in this. And so I set my face like flint, just as He set His face like flint for me, and press on toward the goal.
“O you redeemed ones, on whose behalf this strong resolve was made—you who have been bought by the precious blood of this steadfast, resolute Redeemer—come and think awhile of Him, that your hearts may burn within you and that your faces may be set like flints to live and die for Him who lived and died for you!”