I did it!
If you are perplexed as to the meaning of what I'm talking about, may I gently draw your gaze to the previous post? In it, I trust that all of your deepest inquisitive dreams will at last come true.
To start my day, I had the incredible privilege of standing before 300 students, teachers, and parents, and stumbling my way through trying to make sense of God's scandalous love for His people. Now, I've been teaching, sharing, and speaking for almost four years now, and I still don't think I can quite explain how surreal an experience like that is. To say that it is humbling is like saying that the telephone is a neat toy.
As I stood in the wing and heard the voices of hundreds of students filing into the assembly room, I thought of each of them. I didn't know each of them, but the reality of what God was calling each of them to became was almost overwhelmingly evident. It was if I was being reminded that I wasn't speaking to a room full of people, but individuals who God was calling by name, that He was ministering to deeply, and who carry the potential to do incredible things for God's kingdom -not sometime in the future, but now. God not only uses the "not good enoughs", but He seems to take great pleasure in doing so.
After chapel, Miss Betsy was gracious enough to invite me to spend some time with her incredible kindergarten class. In this amazing gathering of students, I was able to interact with the most fascinating group of four and five year olds I've ever met. We had the chance to work on memory verses, read stories, work on our calendars, and even discuss the weather. As I watched her love on her class, it became so clear to me that Miss Betsy is truly an unbelievable educator, and a hugely gifted minster. Even at four years of age, each student had such a remarkably unique personality and incredible drive to establish themselves as that kind of person, and she loved them all equally and without reservation.
After we ate our freeze-pops (in honor of Dilly the Duck's birthday), we stormed the playground as a conquering army of excited children, myself included. For the day, I became the celebrity swing pusher, tag master, and monkey-bar aid. We ran, laughed, screamed and giggled like school children, me being the only one who doesn't really fit that profile.
There was such a contagious innocence to their spirit, and in their words. Sure some of them were more likely to speak when they weren't supposed to, or lash out on a fellow student, but there was such a convicting and deeply moving sense of vulnerability in this group, I couldn't help but get wrapped up in it all.
As I sat and talked with each of these students, I was stunned by how much they wanted to share with me. I heard about family trips, extraordinary Christmas present, goals for the future, and even about times that they got themselves in trouble. They seemed to have no hesitation on their end in regards to what they shared, or a limit to the excitement by which they shared it. Even at this age, it was so obvious that each of these beautiful children passionately wanted to be known, really known. And then I had this thought:
To be known is terrifying.
I don't think it matters who you are, or what experiences you've had, to be known fully and completely is something that makes each of us at least a little uneasy. For a lot of us, it's not because we have a some extensive list of felonies we're trying to cover up, or some family conspiracy that we don't want anyone to know about. It's just that, for some reason, we simply are terrified for anyone to really know us, all of us.
And I'm pretty sure that our inclination towards hiding is natural. I mean, even looking at the story of Adam and Eve; the first thing they did when they knew they messed up was hide -almost as if it was already instinctual, even though they never had a reason to do so prior.
We've all told moronic lies to keep from getting caught, and made mistakes we'd rather hide from. We've all made excuses for our actions or lack of actions. We all know the temptation to hide. I know I sure do. But children, they seem to be able to transcend that somehow, like they haven't unlearned that vulnerability yet.
Do you ever think about what it would be like for someone to truly know you and everything about you? I hear people say all the time that no one understands them, or that no one really knows them, and I think that much of that is because we've adopted a certain level of shallowness in many of our relationships.
I love the revealing nature of Psalm 139 for a lot of reasons, but predominately because we know that King David is someone who had a lot to hide. He isn't someone who is experiencing a drought of poor decisions at this point in his life. And yet he writes:
1 O LORD, you have searched me
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 know it completely, O LORD.
5 You hem me in—behind and before;
you have laid 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, O 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.
Upon first read, this is a beautiful passage about God's intimate pursuit of each and every one of us, but I think that even in this moving poem, there is something far deeper than we might realize going on here.
Even starting with verse one- to be searched and known. When we think of being searched, I wouldn't be surprised if a lot of us first thought of the police searching a car or house for illegal substances or activity. In these instances, it's not a quick "once over" or a brief scanning of the situation-it is a thorough examination of the entire property. Do we realize how intimately God knows us? The idea of being completely exposed in any context is frightening, but our God has searched and known us before we even knew what that meant. As verse two states, He even knows our thoughts-those things we are too scared to even utter out loud. Or if we ever actually do speak them, we quickly grab our phone to make sure that we didn't actually dial someone or that a stranger isn't standing outside our window, hearing these thoughts, these feelings. We have no real idea of what it means to be completely known. The reality is, if we are God's and He is ours, then there's no such thing as being truly alone. Terrifying for some, absolutely freeing for others.
Verse five uses and interesting term that we may not readily comprehend. It say that He "hems us in -behind and before". In ancient times, a shepherd would bring his sheep into a round corral at night, which was usually a circular stonewall . During the night, the shepherd would literally lay down at the opening, becoming the "gate" for the sheep (John 10:7). This paints a stunning image of not only God' protection, but of His intimacy. That He would himself become the gate, sleeping on the ground with His sheep, speaks volumes to the priorities of His heart. He's not interested in simply knowing us casually, or protecting us from a distance. Our God is not a God of the the sidelines.
And I love the language of how inescapable God's love for us is. In verse nine, we must remember that in 900 B.C., no one knew what was at the bottom of the sea or above the clouds. It would almost make more sense for us to read it as "the very ends of the universe and beyond". To be known so fully does not grant us the luxury of then turning that function off and flying under the radar. God's involvement in our very existence is not only intimate, but staggeringly resilient.
I love verse thirteen in particular because I actually do know how to knit. Well, I know how to knit like a drummer knows how to write songs, I suppose. I fake it. But I know that knitting is a very slow, careful, methodical process.Every movement is intentional and serves a purpose. When a full blanket or scarf is completed, there is such a sense of satisfaction, but even more so of familiarity. No one knows the creation as well as the creator. And I think we miss a lot of this because the majority of us simply swing by Wal-Mart and pick up a blanket, but at the time that this was written, the readers would've understood the profoundly intimate language of this song.
God takes great delight in His people, and took great care in creating them. Consider this small article on the human body and the incredible realities of how we function:
The Miraculous Human Body, Citation: Jeff Arthurs; references Dr. John Medina, genetic engineer, University of Washington, in 1995 lecture at Multnomah Bible College, Portland, Oregon
The average human heart pumps over 1,000 gallons a day, over 55 million gallons in a lifetime. This is enough to fill 13 super tankers. It never sleeps, beating 2.5 billion times in a lifetime.
The lungs contain 1,000 miles of capillaries. The process of exchanging oxygen for carbon dioxide is so complicated that "it is more difficult to exchange O2 for CO2 than for a man shot out of a cannon to carve the Lord’s Prayer on the head of a pin as he passes by."
DNA contains about 2,000 genes per chromosome—1.8 meters of DNA are folded into each cell nucleus. A nucleus is 6 microns long. This is like putting 30 miles of fishing line into a cherry pit. And it isn’t simply stuffed in. It is folded in. If folded one way, the cell becomes a skin cell. If another way, a liver cell, and so forth.
To write out the information in one cell would take 300 volumes, each volume 500 pages thick. The human body contains enough DNA that if it were stretched out, it would circle the sun 260 times.
The body uses energy efficiently. If an average adult rides a bike for 1 hour at 10 mph, it uses the amount of energy contained in 3 ounces of carbohydrate. If a car were this efficient with gasoline, it would get 900 miles to the gallon...
I find it absolutely empowering to know that no matter where we run, no matter what situations we may face, or what dilemmas come our way, we are known. Children get this, and they thrive on this truth. Perhaps that's why Jesus makes so many connections between our hearts and the nature of a child.
Adam and Eve tried to hide, but God found them.
Jonah tried to hide, but God tracked him down.
The young servant hid his master’s talent, because he lacked faith, but he was called to task because God knew his heart.
The scribes, Pharisees, and Sadducees hid behind their Law, but Jesus challenged their hearts with the truth and some were found.
The disciples sat hidden in the upper room after Jesus’ death, only to be greeted by the risen Lord himself.
And one of them present, Peter hid after denying he knew Jesus three times, but the risen Christ found Peter and asked simply, “Do you love me?”
May the God who knows you be with you.
May the God who searched, found, and created astound you.
May we, like children, long to know and be known
May the God who guides, leads, and directs, show us the way.