The God who is there
It has finally dawned on most of my generation that we are in the second half of our lives. The questions come thick and fast– what do I want to be remembered for? Does my life matter? Is this all there is? Have I reached my potential? Is there a secret to eternal youth? How long before the final whistle? Our instinct tells us that we are more than machines and an urgency creeps over us as we scurry around trying to simplify, re-focus, get healthy and prove that we are worthwhile. Perhaps that’s why the over-forties is the fastest growing segment in Ironman triathlons! When I take the trouble to dig a little deeper in relationships, everywhere I see people stalked by disillusionment, disappointment, emptiness and despair. In December last year, a depressed friend of mine, with whom I regularly shared my faith on our weekly walks, finally committed suicide. She believed her life was worth nothing. She felt she had no purpose or hope, strangled by life and trapped by problems she couldn’t solve. Even while surrounded by friends and family, she felt alone and couldn’t look beyond the despair and darkness that enveloped her like a caccoon. Although she put her trust in Jesus in the last weeks of her life, I was shattered by my impotence in rescuing her from suicide.
Psalm 139 has been a great source of hope to me and a reminder of the intimate, caring God we serve if we are at peace with Him through Jesus. As I have allowed this prayer of David to wash over me time and time again, God has shone his light into my restless spirit and anxious thoughts. I know deep down in my bones that God the Father knows and loves each of His children, that he has a plan for our lives and that even the blackest darkness cannot hide us from his sight. Our value is in Him alone. Our worth is innate and doesn’t need to be proven. Here is a portion of this wonderful Psalm to meditate on together:
1 You have searched me, Lord,
and you know me.
2 You know when I sit and when I rise;
you perceive my thoughts from afar.
3 You discern my going out and my lying down;
you are familiar with all my ways.
4 Before a word is on my tongue
you, Lord, know it completely.
5 You hem me in behind and before,
and you lay your hand upon me.
6 Such knowledge is too wonderful for me,
too lofty for me to attain.
7 Where can I go from your Spirit?
Where can I flee from your presence?
8 If I go up to the heavens, you are there;
if I make my bed in the depths, you are there.
9 If I rise on the wings of the dawn,
if I settle on the far side of the sea,
10 even there your hand will guide me,
your right hand will hold me fast.
11 If I say, “Surely the darkness will hide me
and the light become night around me,”
12 even the darkness will not be dark to you;
the night will shine like the day,
for darkness is as light to you.
13 For you created my inmost being;
you knit me together in my mother’s womb.
14 I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
your works are wonderful,
I know that full well.
15 My frame was not hidden from you
when I was made in the secret place,
when I was woven together in the depths of the earth.
16 Your eyes saw my unformed body;
all the days ordained for me were written in your book
before one of them came to be.
17 How precious to me are your thoughts, God!
How vast is the sum of them!
18 Were I to count them,
they would outnumber the grains of sand—
when I awake, I am still with you.
23 Search me, God, and know my heart;
test me and know my anxious thoughts.
24 See if there is any offensive way in me,
and lead me in the way everlasting.
Nowhere to hide
God is not just somewhere up there in heaven, but He is everywhere all at the same time (“omnipresent”). After all, God invented time and space so He is not confined to a place or an era in history as we are. God sees and knows everything, an impossible concept for us to grasp (v6-12). Just think what His “omniscience” means for a moment. He ‘hears’ every one of our thoughts and silent prayers. He knows our pain and tears and heartaches even if we don’t ever verbalise them. He knows when we laugh and when we are anxious and overwhelmed. He knows the problems we cannot solve, our illness or depression, the sins and crimes which may never be discovered by another human being. It’s scary to think that there is no secret hidden from a powerful God, but His familiarity is comforting if we are His children. He protects, guides and holds us fast when we are slipping (v 5, 10). God will never leave us even in the darkest night of our lives. He even knows what’s on our minds before we speak the words (verse 4). God knows the day of our birth and the day on which we will die. “Your eyes saw my unformed body; All the days ordained for me were written in God’s book even before one of them came to be.”( v 16). He has actually recorded our lives in his giant journal! God knew us before we were even born. In fact He knit us together in our mother’s womb, stitch by stitch and line by line. This imagery is a visual reminder of the meticulous care our Maker has taken to create and implant in us our unique passions and personality. These are no one- dimensional stick figures God has drawn! You are a Masterpiece, –a Vermeer or a van Gogh– in your complexity and beauty. You are a 4-D movie! Above our mirrors should read a sign:
“REMEMBER! FEARFULLY AND WONDERFULLY MADE! ACT LIKE IT!”
That should stop us in our tracks the next time we take our body or health for granted or berate or abuse ourselves! That’s why we should cherish our bodies and treat them as holy temples. That’s why each individual has immense value and worth, quite apart from our status, race, age, ability or what we do in our lives. That’s why we can talk to God with confidence. That’s why we can ask God to search the longings and motives of our hearts. We can pray without being defensive and ask God to expose our anxious thoughts and show us where we are offensive to Him. That’s why the elderly, sick, refugees and unborn children matter to God, even if they don’t matter to anyone else. That’s why the strong cannot be allowed to dominate the weak.
David feels comforted by God’s omnipresence and omniscience. He is sure of God’s care and approval of him. He is resting in the shadow of the Almighty, not trying to impress Him or earn his stripes. He is intimate and familiar with God and feels greatly beloved. John 3:16 reminds us that “God so loved the world (each individual) that He gave His only Son, so that whosoever believes in Him, shall not perish, but have eternal life.” Each of His creatures is valuable to God and He has turned heaven upside down to prove this, but only those who have placed their trust in His perfect Son, Jesus Christ, will enter into a relationship with God and “know” Him as their Father. This is a relationship worth investing in, the only sure source of hope in this world and the next.
Here is a video of the speech of an abortion survivor that is worth watching. It is a powerful testimony of the fact that each individual in this world is precious to God.