O Lord, you have examined my heart
and know everything about me.
You know when I sit down or stand up.
You know my thoughts even when I’m far away.
You see me when I travel
and when I rest at home.
You know everything I do.
You know what I am going to say
even before I say it, Lord . . . .
How precious are your thoughts about me, O God.
They cannot be numbered!
I can’t even count them;
they outnumber the grains of sand!
Psalm 139:1-4, 17-18 (NLT)
My degree is in youth and family ministry, and my first job fresh out of college was working with middle and high school students as the director of youth ministries at a large church. As a former camp counselor, I tried to bring those faith experiences into practice in a congregational setting. For instance, we dug a firepit and had bonfires throughout the summer. And it was at one of these bonfires that I shared a favorite devotion I’d used throughout my camp counseling ministry.
I had each student lick their fingertip and swipe it through the dirt under their feet, then told them to count the grains of sand now stuck to their fingertips. Obviously, there was no way they could. Then I asked them to envision a lakeshore. How many grains of sand are there? How about under the lake water? And what about an ocean beach and the grains of sand that make up the ocean floor? The number is unfathomable. And yet Psalm 139 states that God’s thoughts of us outnumber the grains of sand.
From the looks on their faces, I could see that my students’ minds were blown. And I understood their reaction.
When I was their age — and even throughout college and sometimes as an adult — I never felt like anyone’s top friend choice. I never felt truly, fully, wholly known. No friend was finishing my sentences, no friend could seemingly read my mind, no friend wanted to spend every waking hour hanging out or talking on the phone, and no friend could fully understand my feelings. (Note: I realize these are massively high expectations for a school-age or any-age friendship. I blame the copious number of YA novels I read during those years for raising my friendship hopes and dreams.)
As unrealistic as those dreams were, I still have days when it feels like no one really knows me or wants to take the time and energy to get to know who I am. My husband of almost fifteen years is the one who comes closest to knowing me fully. But even with him there are feelings or reactions I need to explain, parts of my personality that surprise even me, and pieces of me that fall apart with little advance notice.
So it’s mind-blowing to realize that the Creator of the universe thinks of us nonstop, knows every single intricate detail about us, and yet adores us.
Being known so fully sounds enticing and also a little terrifying. I mean, fully known means all the way. Completely. Totally. Every single part. There’s a good reason that no person can fully know someone else: it’s overwhelming. God is the only one who can know us completely, and thank goodness. He doesn’t just see the best, prettiest, and most presentable portions of our selves. God also sees every deep, dark, ugly, secret part, and still He chooses to love us. He sees it all, knows it all, and loves us completely anyway.
Psalm 139 contains so many treasures that can bring calm and joy to our hearts. Because of the truths it lists, we can be empowered to rest in being known. We are knitted together by the One who created the original pattern, the One who chooses us again and again, the One who loves us as we are. We are examined and still adored. What a gift!
Lord, You have searched me and You know me, and still You love me. Thank You for an indescribable love that embraces all of me as I am. Even when I feel unknown by others, help me to remember that Your knowledge of me is a comfort. May I spend my days living into the strength You offer in being known. Amen.
Who comes the closest to fully knowing you? How do the truths in Psalm 139 make you feel?
This article is written by Anna E. Rendell and is an excerpt from Empowered: More of Him for All of You.
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